Background: United Kingdom, Ireland, Malta and Sweden maintain their national provisions for a transitional period regarding rules concerning rabies vaccination and individual serological test for rabies neutralizing antibodies. The purpose of vaccinating dogs against rabies is to establish pre-exposure immunity and protect individual animals from contracting rabies.The aim of the study was to investigate factors associated with reaching the internationally accepted threshold antibody titre of 0.5 IU/mL after rabies vaccination of dogs.
Methods: The study was a prospective single cohort study including 6,789 samples from Swedish dogs vaccinated with commercially available vaccines in Sweden, and the dog's antibody responses were determined by the OIE approved FAVN test. Information on potential risk factors; breed, age, gender, date of vaccination, vaccine label and the number of vaccinations, was collected for each dog. Associations between the dependent variable, serological response ≥ 0.5 IU/mL or < 0.5 IU/mL and each of the potential risk factors were investigated using logistic regression analysis.
Results: Of 6,789 vaccinated dogs, 6,241 (91.9%) had an approved test result of ≥ 0.5 IU/mL. The results of the multivariable logistic regression analysis showed that vaccinating with vaccine B reduced the risk of having antibody titres of < 0.5 IU/mL by 0.2 times compared with vaccination using vaccine A. Breed size was found significant as an interaction with number of vaccinations and age at vaccination as an interaction with day of antibody testing after last vaccination. In summary, larger breeds were at higher risk of having antibody titres of < 0.5 IU/mL but if vaccinated twice this risk was reduced. Moreover, there were a increased risk for dogs < 6 months of age and > 5 years of age to have antibody titres of < 0.5 IU/mL, but this was affected by number of days from vaccination till testing.
Conclusions: The probability of success of rabies vaccinations of dogs depends on type of vaccine used, number of rabies vaccinations, the breed size of the dog, age at vaccination, and number of days after vaccination when the antibody titres are tested. The need for a booster vaccination regimen is recommended for larger breeds of dog.