Rabies: How To Protect Your Pets and Your Family


I started to discuss rabies in last week’s review on Beijing vaccines, but there’s a lot of other information that expats need to know. Why is this so important? Because rabies is a major problem in China, and thousands of people die every year in China from infected dog bites — the majority of whom are children under 15 years, and whose lives would have been saved by receiving the rabies vaccines earlier.

One thing you should not assume is that your neighbor’s dog is vaccinated, even an expat’s dog. Only 10% of China’s dogs are properly vaccinated. Nor should you assume that your local Beijing vet clinic is properly licensed! There’s a certain certificate and plaque from the government that you need to make sure your clinic displays; if they don’t have it, then they’re probably not legal. There’s more information here in this downloadable PDF file Essentials on Vaccinating Your Petsprovided by Beijing’s International Center for Veterinary Services.

You can download some other valuable documents, also from ICV:

Here is more information for you: WHO Rabies Fact Sheets.

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One thought on “Rabies: How To Protect Your Pets and Your Family”

  1. Another thing to assess is one's Risk of even getting the disease.

    from http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/EID/vol11no12/05-0271.h

    "The [rabies] disease is predominantly distributed in the southern provinces of China, bordered by the Yangtse River. Relatively fewer cases occur in northern China, largely as a result of population demographics. The human-to-dog ratio in southern China is substantially greater than in northern China, and the potential risk for exposure to a rabid dog is therefore enhanced. From 1996 to 2002, rabies predominantly affected 5 southern provinces, Guangxi, Hunan, Jiangxi, Guangdong, and Jiangsu, with human deaths accounting for >70% of the national total (Figure, Table)"

    Also, the exact figures (nationwide) for rabies are at the CDC site (they have neglected to update in English, for over a year, though!) Here is a breakdown I did and posted on a public forum back in January 2007 about Rabies prevalence – I used the figures which a local veterinarian was arguing were the scary statistics, from 2004, that Rabies cases were Way up that year, and THE reason to vaccinate. I used their news source, way easier than looking up 12 months worth of data on 12 separate pages, and adding them up!) . Stats were based on the then current population and the CDC mandatory reporting system. I have a workup but I didn't look at deaths. And unlike my Japanese Encephalitis and other breakdowns, I guess I was short on time, I looked at several months, then picked one in the midrange and used that as an average for the year… so I'm not sure how accurate it is. But I did come up with almost the exact same incidence rate. Anyway here goes, with workup #1

    "The figure stated previously, 2660 cases in 2004, stands and is readily verifiable. Unless the
    population suddenly decreases or the incidence rates shoot up higher than the population
    growth, these rates should still be good ballpark figures.

    The population of China in 2004 is listed as 1.26583 billion (I included
    mainland only, for a conservative estimate of rabies rates. This figure was found here http://www.china-un.ch/eng/ljzg/shjjtj/t85845.htm ) Quick math and hope I am not in error, I find a rate of 2660/1,265,830,000 = a rate of .0000021 or .00021%

    This is 2.1 rabies cases per million.

    Let's now look at the risks of the vaccine. This information is compiled on http://whale.to/a/rabies.html . The journal references are clearly listed at the
    bottom of the page.

    Some background: There are 3 types of rabies vaccine. It appears that the Avian
    is safest (used in Europe, although not Europe also uses another type, see below).

    The vaccine used in Asia (Animal Brain Tissue) has some serious adverse
    reactions, including death, listed. And the one used in the U.S. and Europe (Cell
    Cultured) also has rare but serious neurological risks.

    The risks of getting the Animal Brain Tissue type (used here in Asia) rabies
    prophylactic shots are as follow:

    1) there is a risk of contracting Rabies (extremely rare but is a documented
    result) and, 2) a more common risk is what is termed "Neuroparalytic accidents".

    The rates of these "accidents" vary widely from study to study but range between
    0.0017% to 0.44% -[a rate of .000017 to .0044] . So the rate is between 17 and 4400 in
    a million. And whatever rate you decide to believe, multiply that risk by 3–to represent
    the course of 3 shots. […more if you factor in the Sensitization issue]

    The types of "neuroparalytic accidents" are listed in detail on the whale.to
    site, but for emphasis I will include some here: paralysis of the arms and/or lower limbs,
    spinal swelling, lack of sensation, sphincter problems, death .

    So in conclusion, even looking at the "low" rate above of 17 per million
    "accidents" means that there is an 8 times higher risk of neuroparalytic incident than there is of
    contracting rabies while living in China (again, 2.1 per million).

    In reality, our risk, since we are living in the North, is even lower than the
    nationwide rates used above— which would further the argument against the necessity of rabies

    In addition, I just thought to check, there are 2,329 reported adverse reactions Rabies Vaccine listed in the VAERS database http://www.medalerts.org. plus another 3
    listed under "RAB A" rabies vaccine to make 2,332 reported adverse events in all. "

    Experts estimate that betwee 1% and at most 10% of all adverse events due to vaccination are identified as such and so 90% to 99% of all reactions are actually not in the database.

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