California AB 272

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CALIFORNIA AB 272 was amended in Senate on 7/2/13 to read: "Every dog owner by the time his or her dog attains the age of four months, shall at intervals of time not more often than once a year, as may be prescribed by the department, procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by the department and administered according to the vaccine label." http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/13-14/bill/asm/ab_0251-0300/ab_272_bill_20130702_amended_sen_v95.htm .  The language of AB 272 as of the 7/2/13 amendment is acceptable to The Rabies Challenge Fund Co-Trustees.

Previous Info below


What You Can Do to Help:

Please contact your State SENATOR immediately http://findyourrep.legislature.ca.gov/ (Verify you have contacted the correct Senator at his/her office; redistricting has caused inaccuracies.) Ask your Senator to OPPOSE AB 272  when it comes up for a vote, then ask every California resident you know to do the same. Join our mailing list for continued updates.


Dr. Jean Dodds has recorded a video about AB 272 with Dr. Karen Becker. View it here, read the transcript and learn more: http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2013/04/29/early-rabies-vaccination.aspx

Check the Rabies Challenge Fund Facebook Page for updates.

Read a letter sent to the Senate Committee from the President of the AHVMA.

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The Rabies Challenge Fund Cover Letter to California Senators:

April 28, 2013

Greetings Senator:

Attached is a letter from The Rabies Challenge Fund, a California charitable trust of which Santa Monica resident, veterinarian & world-renowned veterinary vaccine research scientist Dr. W. Jean Dodds is Co-Trustee, in OPPOSITION to Rabies Bill AB 272.   This bill will likely be assigned to your committee this week, after passing the Assembly last week.

AB 272 would require that all dogs be vaccinated against rabies at the age of 3 months instead of 4 months.  Lowering the required age of rabies vaccination to 3 months not only increases the likelihood of adverse vaccine reactions when added to other puppy vaccines given at 3 months, but also may fail to adequately immunize due to residual maternal antibodies.

Please bear in mind that there are no veterinarians or veterinary medical practitioners amongst the bill’s sponsors, Health Officers Association of California—the association consists of physicians and speak with no more authority on veterinary medical issues than veterinarians would in sponsoring a bill regulating human medical care.

If you have any questions or would like any of the scientific and/or medical data referenced in the attached letter, you can reach Dr. W. Jean Dodds in California at her veterinary clinic (714) 891-2022 or via e-mail at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ,   or you can reach me at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Regards,

Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee
The Rabies Challenge Fund
www.RabiesChallengeFund.org

Letter from The Rabies Challenge Fund to Assembly Members Gatto & Eggman and correspondence between Dr. Dodds and Dr. Ehnert:

March 14, 2013

Assemblymember Mike Gatto, Chair
Assemblymember Susan T. Eggman, Chair
Assembly Appropriations Committee Assembly Agriculture Committee

RE: AB 272 An Act to Amend Section 121690 of the Health and Safety Code Relating to Rabies

Greetings Assemblymembers Gatto and Eggman :

There are some misrepresentations and inaccuracies relating to AB 272 which should be clarified before another vote is taken on this measure. On February 14, Dr. W. Jean Dodds, a California veterinarian, and Co-Trustee of the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, corrected and clarified this misinformation regarding AB 272 in an e-mail to the Acting Director of Veterinary Public Health, Dr. Karen Ehnert, but apparently this information was not conveyed to the bill sponsor or members of the Agriculture or Appropriations Committees (see attached e-mail), or it was disregarded.

The Agriculture Committee comments on AB 272 report that California is the only state that sets a minimum age of four months for dogs rabies vaccination.” This statement is false. Only twelve (12) out of fifty (50) states require that dogs be vaccinated by 3 months (Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania) . Thirteen (13) states require that dogs be vaccinated by the age of 4 months (Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia); one (1) state (Wisconsin) requires vaccination by 5 months; and six (6) require vaccination by the age of 6 months (Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, West Virginia), and twelve (12) refer to the National Association of State Public Health Veterinarians’ Rabies Compendium which recommends that rabies vaccines should be administered according to the manufacturers’ labeled instructions. Rabies vaccine labels indicate that they may be given at 3 months, not that they must be. It is implied in the comments that the Compendium advises that puppies should or must be vaccinated at 3 months of age, which is not the case.

Merial’s IMRAB rabies vaccine labels indicate that they "can be administered to puppies as early as 3 months of age" and Pfizer’s Defensor rabies vaccine labels advise that they are for dogs and cats “3 months of age or older.” These instructions denote the minimum age at which it is safe to administer rabies vaccines (i.e., do not administer before 3 months of age) and not a minimum age at which they must be administered to be effective. Scientific data reflect that the later a puppy can be vaccinated, the more likely the vaccine will have the desired immunological response due to reduced interference of maternal antibodies, which are still present in 3 month old puppies. The 2011 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines reports that: "Because dogs older than 14-16 wk of age are not likely to have interfering levels of MDA [maternally derived antibodies], administration of a single initial dose of an infectious vaccine to an adult dog can be expected to induce a protective immune response. ..... MDA is the most common reason early vaccination fails to immunize." [1][1]

Contributing to the likelihood of failure to achieve a proper immune response to rabies vaccination at 3 months is that puppies are finishing up their initial vaccination series of distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus at 12 weeks (3 months) of age. Addition of a rabies vaccine into the mix will not only increase the possibility of adverse reactions, but also the probability that the vaccine components will interfere with each other and neutralize or negate an appropriate immunological response. [2][2] [3][3]

In her e-mailed message concerning AB 272 to Dr. Dodds and me, Dr. Ehnert wrote that: “[t]o clarify, the one word change allows for dogs to be vaccinated at 3 months of age, but does not mandate it.” This is a misrepresentation of the bill as worded and the committee summary declaring that “[t]his bill changes, from four months to three months, the age at which a dog is required to be vaccinated against rabies." Addition of a clause such as "or previously vaccinated at the age of three months in another state or country with a rabies vaccine licensed by the USDA" to the current law requiring vaccination at four months would accomplish that goal without changing the mandated age of vaccination to three months.

Dr. Ehnert also explained that one of the reasons she has “pushed” for this change is she and the Health Officers Association “… want to give owners the opportunity to vaccinate puppies earlier when there is increased risk. The past two years we have seen a 4 -5 fold increase in bat rabies in LA County, with some areas being hot spots.” There has been no escalation in canine rabies corresponding to the increase in bat rabies, which according to the Department of Health’s Reported Animal Rabies, for Los Angeles County there were no cases of rabid dogs from 2010 through 2012, while there were 114 rabid bats (22 in 2010, 38 in 2011, and 54 in 2011—representing an increase of nearly 2.5 times instead of a 4-5 fold increase). Statewide, there have only been three cases of rabies in dogs since 2007, as opposed to 981 rabid bats and 147 rabid skunks for the same period, which evidences the fact that the current law requiring puppies to be vaccinated against rabies by 4 months of age is effective at controlling rabies in California’s canine community and does not need to be changed.

To address the concern over a rising increase in rabies in the bat population spilling over into the domestic pet population, Dr. Ehnert and other members of the Health Officers Association of California should request introduction of a bill requiring that all cats in California be vaccinated against rabies, as cats are reported to be 4 times as likely to be infected with rabies as dogs.[4][4] The Chair of the Compendium of Animal Rabies Prevention and Control Committee, Dr. Catherine M. Brown, stated that [b]ecause more rabies cases are reported annually involving cats…than dogs, vaccination of cats should be required.”

As it currently stands, the law requiring puppies to be vaccinated at 4 months of age is and has been effective at controlling rabies in California’s canine population. There is no epidemiological or scientific rationale for changing this law and prematurely exposing puppies to the potentially harmful, sometimes fatal, adverse side affects of the rabies vaccine prior to the age of 4 months.

On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund, a registered California Charitable Trust, and the many concerned California pet owners who have requested our assistance, I strongly urge you to oppose passage of AB 272 as it is currently written.

Respectfully submitted,

Kris L. Christine
Founder, Co-Trustee
THE RABIES CHALLENGE FUND
www.RabiesChallengeFund.org

This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

cc: Dr. W. Jean Dodds
Dr. Ronald Schultz
Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez
California Assembly

[1][1] American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2011 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, p.12

[2][2] American Animal Hospital Association Canine Vaccine Task Force. 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines, Recommendations, and Supporting Literature, p.16

[3][3] Moore, et als., Adverse Events Diagnosed Within Three Days of Vaccine Administration in Dogs; Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association., Vol. 227, No. 7, October 1, 2005

[4][4] Blanton JD, et al. Rabies Surveillance in the United States During 2008. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association 2009; 235: 676-690.


E-Mail Correspondence re AB 272 between Dr. Karen Ehnert & Dr. W. Jean Dodds, Co-Founder of The Rabies Challenge Fund [Dr. Dodds' responses to Dr. Ehnert are in red.]

----- Original Message -----

From: Jean

To: 'Jean' ; 'Karen Ehnert' ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 1:24 PM
Subject: MORE FORGOT ATTACHMENT RE: AB 272 - previous discussion with Dr. Dobbs prior to submission

Dear Karen: Here is the Attachment – I added the Cat paper too. Jean

From: Jean [mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]
Sent: Thursday, February 14, 2013 9:19 AM
To: 'Karen Ehnert'; ' This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '; ' This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it '
Subject: RE: AB 272 - previous discussion with Dr. Dobbs prior to submission

 

Dear Karen: Hello again ! Kris Christine and I , as Co-Trustees of the Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust, have reviewed your comments and concerns and provide a detailed response below:

[Please note for sake of accuracy that my name was misspelled in your e-mail = W. Jean Dodds, DVM]. Respectfully, Jean

First, there is nothing in the current law that precludes dogs from being vaccinated earlier than 4 months. According to California's own data, there has been no increase in rabies in the canine population corresponding to the purported increase in bats & skunks. If you are that concerned, why not propose a bill requiring rabies vaccination for cats, which are 3-4 times more likely to have rabies than dogs?

Stating that "all other states and countries” – “either allow or mandate that dogs get vaccinated at 3 months” is clearly misleading. (see below, as of February 2012, only 13 of 50 states required vaccination at 3 months).

Perhaps you could accomplish your desired goal by adding suggested language to a legislative initiative such as "or previously vaccinated at the age of three months in another state or country with a rabies vaccine licensed by the USDA."

The vast majority of states do not require rabies vaccinations at 3 months of age -- only 13 out of 50 states require vaccination at 3 months, 13 have 4 months, 1 has 5 months, 6 have 6 months, 12 just refer to the Rabies Compendium (which states according to vaccine label), and 4 are not specific or leave it up to municipalities.

Vaccine label states 12 weeks of age AND OLDER, so they do not require it at a minimum of 3 months, which means the Rabies Compendium does not either. http://merialusa.naccvp.com/index.php?m=product_view_basic&id=1111028 IMRAB 3 vaccine label "indications" recommended for the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs,... 12 weeks of age and older...."

(13) States with 3 month laws/regulations: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Idaho, Indiana, Louisiana, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Wyoming
(13) States with 4 month laws/regulations: Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia

(1) State with 5 month laws/regulations: Wisconsin
(6) States with 6 month laws/regulations: Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, Tennessee, West Virginia

(12) States referring only to the Rabies Compendium: Alaska, Colorado, Georgia, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, North Dakota, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Washington State
Hawaii -- none required because they are an island
Kansas -- leaves it up to the municipalities
Missouri -- not sure where to place this one, here's the statute: (3) "Immunized", immunized against rabies at the expense of the owner or custodian by the administration of antirabic virus by a licensed veterinarian;
Ohio-- leaves it up to municipalities

----- Original Message -----

Date: Wed, 13 Feb 2013 09:48:47 -0800
From: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: AB 272 - previous discussion with Dr. Dobbs prior to submission

** High Priority **

Dr. Dobbs and Kris Christine,

Months ago I had reached out to you (Dr. Jean Dobbs) about the proposed modification to the State rabies laws to prevent over vaccination of puppies being brought into California. When I explained that the change would allow for earlier vaccination, but not mandate it, you had indicated that you were ok with it. However, I have heard that your organization is now opposed. Can I find out why the change? No change; just a further clarification of our views.

I do understand that the interpretive language put out by the legislative analyst was incorrect and did not follow what the health officers association had proposed. They are working on getting this changed. We cannot entertain a bill where the language is incorrect, until such time it is corrected and we can then see where we stand.

To clarify, the one word change allows for dogs to be vaccinated at 3 months of age, but does not mandate it. This must be clear, no matter what age they choose. I’m opposed to reducing it to 3 months for our stated reasons. The sections states: "Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of (deleted: four) three months, shall, at intervals of time not more often than once a year, as may be prescribed by the department, How can the department require rabies boosters after the initial 2 doses more often than every three years ? I’ve never understood this language nor its justification. procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by, and in a manner prescribed by, the department, unless a licensed veterinarian determines, on an annual basis, that a rabies vaccination would endanger the dog's life due to disease or other considerations that the veterinarian can verify and document. The responsible city, county, or city and county may specify the means by which the dog owner is required to provide proof of his or her dog's rabies vaccination, including, but not limited to, by electronic transmission or facsimile."

The licensing requirement was not altered, and still states:

"(a) Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of four months, shall no less than once every two years secure a license for the dog as provided by ordinance of the responsible city, city and county, or county. License fees shall be fixed by the responsible city, city and county, or county, at an amount not to exceed limitations otherwise prescribed by state law or city, city and county, or county charter."

Why have I pushed for this change? In all other states and countries, they either allow or mandate that dogs get vaccinated at 3 months [This is a misleading statement – see above facts, as only 13 of 50 states (only about 26%) require rabies vaccinations at 3 months of age, and another 13 states require vaccination at 4 months. Also, what other countries do is irrelevant], as the vaccines are licensed for by the USDA. Only California discredits rabies vaccines given between 3 and 4 months. Not so. As a result, puppies being brought into our state that are 3 - 4 months old have often been vaccinated against rabies already, but to comply with the State law, they have to be revaccinated at 4 months. This double vaccination situation is what needs to be changed by new legislative language, rather than lowering the age to make all dogs in CA potentially able receive rabies vaccine when they are too young, and can react adversely, especially when other vaccines are being given during. The published Banfield studies (Moore et al, JAVMA 227:1102–1108, 2005) showed a significant increase in adverse events when multiple vaccines are given together (see attached Tables).

This is thousands of little puppies (surely this is an exaggerated number) being forced to be vaccinated twice This needs to be changed with new language to state "or previously vaccinated at the age of three months in another state or country with a rabies vaccine licensed by the USDA." even though the original vaccine was legal in their original home. Then too, we must quarantine the imported puppies until they are 5 months old, so they are not able to be socialized appropriately during the critical age. Why do they have to be quarantined ? Regardless, how would lowering the age of rabies vaccine in CA change the quarantine issue ?

I am against over-vaccination of these puppies (but giving the vaccine when they are too young and already getting multivalent shots is somehow safer for the vast majority) and the only way to stop it is to change the one word in the law. Not so – just needs more creative language rewrite as we have suggested. That way the vaccine given in those other states/countries is now considered legal and can be used for licensing. Our suggestion of including an exception for pups legally vaccinated elsewhere would also work.

Another reason is that we want to give owners the opportunity to vaccinate puppies earlier when there is increased risk. We disagree here. The past two years we have seen a 4 -5 fold increase in bat rabies in LA County, with some areas being hot spots. The reported stats seem to be in disagreement here, as there has been no increase in rabies in the canine population corresponding to the purported increase in bats & skunks Perhaps you have more recent numbers ? . These bats have been showing up inside homes and in back yards, and many have come in contact with pets. Unfortunately, it is recommended that unvaccinated pets that come in contact with rabid or potentially rabid animals be euthanized right away. Sometimes the health department can allow a strict 6 month isolation for the pet. Some pet owners have indicated they want to protect their beloved pets after rabid bats have been found in their neighborhood. This will give them the option. But, how come most other areas of USA where not only bat rabies but also other rabid species exist do not worry about this issue in very young pups. Does residual maternal rabies immunity pose a risk of neutralizing rabies vaccines given at that age ? Typically, maternally-derived immunity is mostly gone by 16 weeks, but not at 12 weeks.

So, to clarify, this change was proposed to prevent over-vaccination of puppies being brought into our state and to give owners the option of earlier vaccination when there is increased risk. It is up to the owner and veterinarian to decide what to do. But, we all recognize that pressure or emphasis on risk and need presented to naive pet owners by veterinarians and their staff will have them vaccinate for rabies at 12 weeks ! Licensing remains at 4 months, so there is no requirement for folks to vaccinate their puppies earlier.

With that clarification, can you let me know what you think? I would hate to see this bill shot down so we have to continue with forcing these puppies to be vaccinated twice for rabies, when once should be enough. Amen !

Let me know if you have any questions.

Karen

Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM
Director (Acting)
Veterinary Public Health
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
313 N. Figueroa St, Room 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 989-7060
(213) 481-2375 Fax
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/
Our mission: "To protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being"

-----Original Message-----

From: Karen Ehnert [mailto: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ]
Sent: Wednesday, February 13, 2013 9:49 AM
To: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it ; This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
Subject: AB 272 - previous discussion with Dr. Dobbs prior to submission

Importance: High

** High Priority **

Dr. Dobbs and Kris Christine,

Months ago I had reached out to you (Dr. Jean Dobbs) about the proposed modification to the State rabies laws to prevent over vaccination of puppies being brought into California. When I explained that the change would allow for earlier vaccination, but not mandate it, you had indicated that you were ok with it. However, I have heard that your organization is now opposed. Can I find out why the change?

I do understand that the interpretive language put out by the legislative analyst was incorrect and did not follow what the health officers association had proposed. They are working on getting this changed.

To clarify, the one word change allows for dogs to be vaccinated at 3 months of age, but does not mandate it. The sections states: "Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of (deleted: four) three months, shall, at intervals of time not more often than once a year, as may be prescribed by the department, procure its vaccination by a licensed veterinarian with a canine antirabies vaccine approved by, and in a manner prescribed by, the department, unless a licensed veterinarian determines, on an annual basis, that a rabies vaccination would endanger the dog's life due to disease or other considerations that the veterinarian can verify and document. The responsible city, county, or city and county may specify the means by which the dog owner is required to provide proof of his or her dog's rabies vaccination, including, but not limited to, by electronic transmission or facsimile."

The licensing requirement was not altered, and still states:

"(a) Every dog owner, after his or her dog attains the age of four months, shall no less than once every two years secure a license for the dog as provided by ordinance of the responsible city, city and county, or county. License fees shall be fixed by the responsible city, city and county, or county, at an amount not to exceed limitations otherwise prescribed by state law or city, city and county, or county charter."

Why have I pushed for this change? In all other states and countries, they either allow or mandate that dogs get vaccinated at 3 months, as the vaccines are licensed for by the USDA. Only California discredits rabies vaccines given between 3 and 4 months. As a result, puppies being brought into our state that are 3 - 4 months old have often been vaccinated against rabies already, but to comply with the State law, they have to be revaccinated at 4 months. This is thousands of little puppies being forced to be vaccinated twice, even though the original vaccine was legal in their original home. Then too, we must quarantine the imported puppies until they are 5 months old, so they are not able to be socialized appropriately during the critical age.

I am against over-vaccination of these puppies and the only way to stop it is to change the one word in the law. That way the vaccine given in those other states/countries is now considered legal and can be used for licensing.

Another reason is that we want to give owners the opportunity to vaccinate puppies earlier when there is increased risk. The past two years we have seen a 4 -5 fold increase in bat rabies in LA County, with some areas being hot spots. These bats have been showing up inside homes and in back yards, and many have come in contact with pets. Unfortunately, it is recommended that unvaccinated pets that come in contact with rabid or potentially rabid animals be euthanized right away. Sometimes the health department can allow a strict 6 month isolation for the pet. Some pet owners have indicated they want to protect their beloved pets after rabid bats have been found in their neighborhood. This will give them the option.

So, to clarify, this change was proposed to prevent over-vaccination of puppies being brought into our state and to give owners the option of earlier vaccination when there is increased risk. It is up to the owner and veterinarian to decide what to do. Licensing remains at 4 months, so there is no requirement for folks to vaccinate their puppies earlier.

With that clarification, can you let me know what you think? I would hate to see this bill shot down so we have to continue with forcing these puppies to be vaccinated twice for rabies, when once should be enough.

Let me know if you have any questions.

Karen

Karen Ehnert, DVM, MPVM
Director (Acting)
Veterinary Public Health
Los Angeles County Department of Public Health
313 N. Figueroa St, Room 1127
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 989-7060
(213) 481-2375 Fax
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it
http://publichealth.lacounty.gov/vet/
Our mission: "To protect health, prevent disease, and promote health and well-being"


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