Holistic veterinarians endorse K-State rabies titer test


Researchers emphasize that testing does not supersede local laws but could open the door to new policies.

A new test panel developed at Kansas State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory has garnered the support of a national veterinary organization. The American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has endorsed the lab's rabies titer test, an antibody test that can measure an animal's immune response to the rabies virus.

In animals with a history of two or more rabies vaccinations, a titer test measuring 0.5 international units per milliliter or higher would indicate the animal may only need a booster if bitten or exposed to the rabies virus, protecting pets from receiving unnecessary vaccinations, K-State lab officials say.

According to Rolan Davis, MS, a researcher in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, the partnership with the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association has many advantages to improve testing methods.

“We are all like-minded individuals using science for the betterment of pet health,” Davis says in a release from K-State. “We have modified our test into a microtest so that we can do more testing with less sample from an animal. This helps drive down the price; we use smaller wells for testing so it is more economic and pet-friendly.”

In typical rabies control, if a pet is exposed to rabies and is not currently vaccinated-within one to three years of the last vaccination-that animal is considered unvaccinated, the release says.

And if an animal is considered unvaccinated, “that means either a six-month quarantine at a cost of about $4,000 to $6,000, or euthanasia-and neither one is very good for pet owners,” Davis says.

While vaccinations are important in protecting animals against serious diseases, researchers at Kansas State University and the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association are concerned about the side effects associated with administration of the rabies vaccine.

Susan Moore, PhD, director of the rabies lab and clinical assistant professor in the Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, says the support from the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association is a step toward more options for veterinarians and pet owners.

“This is a collaborative effort to bring awareness to pet owners who are concerned with overvaccinating, and it will give us more data to bring to the regulation agencies,” Moore says.

Rabies titers have been studied at Kansas State University for many years, Davis and Moore say. However, until policies change, they emphasize that testing does not supersede state and local laws for rabies vaccinations and registering a pet.

“Rabies titer testing could eventually bridge the gap between the two parties to prove there is a reasonable level at which it is acceptable for an animal to skip vaccines and opt for a booster when it's necessary,” Davis says.

For more information about the Kansas State University Rabies Laboratory, visit www.ksvdl.org/rabies-laboratory.

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