A drug manufacturer that said last week that millions of dogs nationally would need to be reinoculated because they might have received faulty rabies vaccine announced yesterday that cats may also need new vaccinations.
Washington area veterinarians said the announcement by Norden Laboratories of Lincoln, Neb., made a stressful situation worse. Animal clinics faced "mass hysteria" last week as local dogs owners demanded free revaccinations after learning that their pets may not be protected against rabies, several local veterinarians said.
"My reaction? In one word -- arrrrgggghhh," said Bob Cohn, of the North Laurel Animal Hospital. "It's scary because in some areas there are more cats per household than dogs."
"This is going to mean an even larger increase in the number of rabies vaccine that we are going to have to reissue," Cohn said.
Cecil Metzger, Norden's director of customer affairs, said, "This is not a panic situation." He assured veterinarians that Norden will send free vaccines and syringes if they can document that they have revaccinated animals that may be affected.
Not all cats and dogs given the two vaccines -- Endurall-K, said to be good for one year, and Rabguard-TC, a three-year verson -- are at risk, because there are two ways it can be administered and only one failed a government-conducted test, said Metzger.
The vaccine can be injected into a muscle, the established method that is still considered effective, or just under the skin, the newer procedure that failed.
But some veterinarians are revaccinating all dogs and cats given the vaccine, no matter which method was used.
"We cannot be sure which doctor gave a particular dog or cat a vaccine intramuscularly or subcutaneously," said Dr. Bruce Herwald, a veterinarian at Friendship Hospital for Animals in Northwest. "Most large practices, which practice high-quality medicine, are revaccinating all of them just in case.
"Realistically, there's no way we could document this," Herwald said. He said he is confident that the company will reimburse Friendship Hospital for Animals for all the revaccinations.
In an Aug. 28 letter sent to veterinarians, Norden said that "we do not recommend revaccination of cats previously inoculated subcutaneously." The letter said that a three-year cat vaccination study would be completed by the end of the year. However, preliminary data has indicated that cats vaccinated subcutaneously may not be protected, according to Metzger.
Metzger said the animals most at risk are those that had never been vaccinated previously and have received only one dose since July 1985. Those animals should be revaccinated as soon as possible, according to the company.