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  • Author or Editor: Rachel A. Radcliffe x
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Objective—To assess the knowledge, attitudes, and practices regarding rabies preexposure prophylaxis among veterinary facility owners in West Virginia and to compare facilities in counties where raccoon rabies virus variant (RRVV) is or is not enzootic.

Design—Cross-sectional telephone survey.

Sample—124 owners of facilities licensed by the West Virginia Board of Veterinary Medicine.

Procedures—In 2011, an owner of each licensed facility in West Virginia was contacted by telephone to complete a questionnaire regarding practice demographics, knowledge of rabies epidemiology, and preexposure prophylaxis policies. Data from facilities in counties where RRVV is enzootic were compared with data from facilities in counties where RRVV is not enzootic. Prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated to quantify the strength of associations.

Results—Owners of 124 of the 162 (77%) veterinary facilities participated in the survey. West Virginia veterinarians were knowledgeable of rabies epidemiology in the state. Respondents agreed that veterinarians (122/124 [98%]) and technicians and assistants (111/124 [90%]) should receive preexposure prophylaxis. Fifty-six (45%) respondents required that veterinarians receive preexposure prophylaxis, whereas 19 (15%) respondents required that technicians and assistants receive preexposure prophylaxis. A preexposure prophylaxis policy was in effect at 20 of 64 (31%) facilities in counties where RRVV is enzootic and 6 of 60 (10%) facilities in counties where RRVV is not enzootic. Concerns related to cost of preexposure prophylaxis were reported.

Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Except for veterinarians, veterinary staff in West Virginia did not commonly receive preexposure prophylaxis or regular assessments of serum rabies virus neutralizing antibody titers. All veterinary practices are encouraged to consider revising or implementing a preexposure prophylaxis policy based on the Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices' recommendations. (J Am Vet Med Assoc 2013;243:63–67)

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association


CASE DESCRIPTION A female alpaca, kept at pasture with 12 other female alpacas, 2 crias, and 5 goats, was evaluated because of clinical signs of aggression.

CLINICAL FINDINGS The clinical signs of aggression progressed to include biting at other animals as well as disorientation. Three days later, the alpaca was euthanized because of suspicion of rabies virus infection.

TREATMENT AND OUTCOME No physical injuries were found at necropsy. Brain tissue specimens were confirmed positive for rabies on the basis of direct fluorescent antibody test results. Molecular typing identified the rabies virus variant as one that is enzootic in raccoons. The farm was placed under quarantine, restricting movement of animals on and off the property for 6 months. To prevent further rabies cases, 14 alpacas (12 adults and 2 crias) were vaccinated by extralabel use of a large animal rabies vaccine. Of the 14 vaccinated alpacas, 8 had paired serum samples obtained immediately before and 21 days after vaccination; all 8 alpacas had adequate serum antirabies antibody production in response to rabies vaccination. As a result of an adequate serologic response, the quarantine was reduced to 3 months. In the year after the index rabies case, no other animals on the farm developed rabies.

CLINICAL RELEVANCE Extralabel use of rabies vaccines in camelids was used in the face of a public health investigation. This report provides an example of handling of a rabies case for future public health investigations, which will undoubtedly need to develop ad-hoc rabies vaccination recommendations on the basis of the unique characteristics of the event.

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in Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association