The Texas Department of Health Services has proposed changes in the current rabies control rules to ensure compliance with the Health and Safety Code and is seeking comments from veterinarians. Deadline for comments is Sunday, Sept. 30.
Some of the proposed changes relate to reporting human exposure to rabies, facilities for the quarantining or impounding of animals, quarantine method and testing, vaccination requirement, and the interstate and international movement of cats and dogs into Texas.
Some veterinarians feel that an exemption rule is missing. The proposed changes, as well as the original bill, do not allow for the use of veterinary discretion when administering the rabies vaccination in sick or senior pets.
“I am not anti-vaccine but my concern is that there are going to be some very rare exceptions where the veterinarian should be allowed the discretion not to vaccinate the dog or cat again for rabies,” said Bob Rogers, DVM, of Houston, who has played an active role in working to reform outdated rabies laws.
Some of Dr. Rogers’ concerns about re-vaccination pertain to dogs that have had immune-mediated hemolytic anemia or immune-mediated thrombocytopenia and cats that have been treated for fibrosarcoma.
An exemption was not included in the changes because petitions for the exemption were presented too late, according to the Department of State Health Services. The National Assn. of State Public Health Veterinarians has placed the item on its agenda to discuss taking it up on a national level.
“There is desire by some to add an exemption and that came up late in the process of presenting the rules,” said Tom Sidwa, DVM, Texas Public Health Veterinarian. “The decision was made to go forward rather than start the whole process over again and then take up the issue of exemption at a later date. One reason for that is that nationally, there is really no consensus on the issue. Some [states] do have medical exemptions, and where they do exist, they are really all over the board.
“The proposed rabies control legislation originally was for public health,” Dr. Sidwa said. “It wasn’t geared toward domestic animals; it was geared toward dealing with the rabies threat to humans. The department is not opposed to considering the idea of adding exemptions, we just want more guidance on a national level so that when we consider it we have something substantive to base a decision upon.”
The proposed rules are published in the Texas Register and are open for comments and review.
Comments on the proposal may be sent to:
Dr. Tom Sidwa
Department of State Health Services
Community Preparedness Section
Zoonosis Control Branch
1100 West 49th St.
Austin, TX, 78756
Or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.