Titer testing may decrease need for yearly rabies vaccines


K-State researchers work may prevent unnecessary vaccinations in at-risk pets.

Researchers at Kansas State University's Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory have modified a test that measures an animal's immune response to the rabies virus, a change that could cost pet owners less money and could help reduce the number of yearly vaccines for pets, according to a university release.

The researchers say testing for titers-the antibodies capable of neutralizing rabies-is a valid indication of the animal's resistance to the rabies virus. A measurement of 0.5 international units per milliliter or higher would indicate that the pet is protected and may only need a booster if exposed to the virus, depending on rabies regulations in the area, the release states.

All animals should be vaccinated with core vaccines and receive a yearly booster of those vaccines. But yearly vaccines can sometimes create other health concerns; for example, there is a link between yearly vaccinations and injection site sarcomas in cats. The K-State rabies titer test could keep a pet from experiencing an unnecessary injection at its yearly exam.

The test has not yet been accepted by national veterinary organizations as a standard for indicating a pet's level of protection against rabies, but measuring titers is currently used for determining whether cats and dogs need a vaccination for other high-risk diseases, the release states.

"In both domestic cats and dogs, there is a positive correlation between rabies neutralizing antibody titers and the level of protection,” says Rolan Davis, MS, a researcher in the Kansas State University Rabies Laboratory. "We are certainly not against vaccinations; we are against rabies. We are looking for the best ways to prevent rabies in animals and humans."

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