Rabies postexposure prophylaxis protocol option for unvaccinated domestic animals, Texas: 2010-2019

J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2024 Feb 9;262(5):627-634. doi: 10.2460/javma.23.11.0625. Print 2024 May 1.


Objective: To assess data on rabies postexposure prophylaxis (PEP) in domestic animals following Texas' protocol and to describe preexposure and postexposure vaccination failures from 2010 through 2019.

Animals: 1,218 unvaccinated animals that received PEP, 925 unvaccinated animals that were euthanatized instead of receiving PEP, and 3 preexposure vaccinated dogs that developed rabies.

Methods: Zoonotic incident reports from 2010 through 2019 were reviewed for information regarding animals with no known rabies vaccination that received PEP or were euthanatized in accordance with state protocol after exposure to a laboratory-confirmed rabid animal; reports were also reviewed for any preexposure and postexposure vaccination failures. The state-required PEP protocol was to immediately vaccinate the animal against rabies, confine the animal for 90 days, and administer booster vaccines during the third and eighth weeks of the confinement period.

Results: From 2010 through 2019, 1,218 exposed animals received PEP; 99.8% did not develop rabies. Three failures were recorded, all in animals < 12 weeks of age when PEP was initiated. Additionally, 925 exposed animals were euthanatized instead of receiving PEP. One true preexposure vaccination failure was recorded.

Clinical relevance: The Texas PEP protocol was used during the 10-year period. Results indicated that this protocol is a viable option for unvaccinated domestic animals exposed to rabies. Alternative protocols warrant additional consideration.

Keywords: Texas; postexposure; prophylaxis; rabies; vaccination.