Bell County rabies debate continues - KXXV Central Texas News Now


Bell County rabies debate continues

by Kevin Davis

KILLEEN - Despite having a state requirement of vaccinating pets for rabies every 3 years, Bell County requires pets to be vaccinated annually.  Though some have given a local skunk population as the reason for Bell's outlier vaccination status, others say it's an unnecessary procedure that exposes their pets to needless risk.

Dr. Laura Zseremi, a veterinarian herself as well as being on the board of the animal advisory board of Killeen, believes that performing the procedure every year is needless.  "It is an unnecessary medical procedure on pets that we do know has potential side effects...we also know from studies that the vaccine is extremely effective for 3 years and giving more vaccines doesn't increase immunity."

Particularly worrisome to Zseremi is the potential for serious side effects such as cancer.  "We know very well that cats in particular that cats are prone to getting a certain type of cancer called fibrocarcoma by giving injections, vaccinations, rabies vaccinations."

But Dr. Warren Dunn of the Belton Veterinary Clinic disagrees, saying that it's better to be safe than sorry and that the potential for side effects is an acceptable risk if it means helping to contain a deadly disease.

Dunn says that though the rabies vaccine is clinically tested to last 3 years, it does not last that long in practice and that "there would be instances where it would fail."  Dunn did not provide any specific instances where a vaccine has failed.

Szeremi says that there is a financial effect for clinics that would potentially shift from 1 to 3 years in administering rabies vaccines.  In a 2004 article for, a veterinary website, the authors say that changing vaccination intervals will result in a potential loss for vets:

"Historically, the vast majority of practice visits have been initiated because the client received a notice that vaccinations were due or because the pet was sick. And in many practices today, the vaccination reminder is the one thing that drives visits from healthy pets. So changing your vaccine protocols could have a significant affect on practice finances.

How big a hit will you take? Discuss these questions with your team members to find out. And keep in mind, if you've already changed your vaccination recommendations, you can still complete this initial analysis by reviewing computer reports or medical records that were completed before the change."

However, for the time being, the county does not look like it will be modifying it's rule anytime soon.

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