After the Webinar: Wildlife and Rabies. Q&A with HSUS’ John Griffin

Webinar presenter John Griffin answered a number of your questions after his presentation, Wildlife and Rabies.  Here are just a few of his responses.



Audience Question: Is there a reason why Hawaii doesn’t seem to have any cases of rabies? 

John Griffin: It has something to do with it being an island. It just hasn’t gotten – an animal that is carrying the disease hasn’t gotten over there. There are some of these areas across the globe that doesn’t have rabies or it has had it in the past, it has been eradicated and there’s a lot of work done to make sure it doesn’t start up again, become epizootic. It certainly is because it is an island.



Audience Question: Is there somewhere perhaps on the CDC site where we can find reports of all rabid animals found in a particular jurisdiction? 

John Griffin: You can go to the – it might be easier for me to send a link out. Is that something I can do, Aaron?

Aaron Gorrell (host): Yeah absolutely if you just want to send that to me, I will add that link to the course page so that everyone who is attending this webinar can grab that URL up.

John Griffin: Okay, so the current report is, you can go to the journal American Veterinary Medical Association. It is the December 18th, 2018, volume 253, it is pages 1555 through 1568. It’s in that journal, published in 2018. I can send you the actual PDF of the paper and you can actually drill down to this information. It actually is really interesting.



Audience Question: As an ACO, we are required to get the initial 3-shot preventive rabies vaccine and then a booster every two years, how effective are these vaccines if bitten or exposed to a rabid animal? 

John Griffin: I think the answer is 100% effective. They have been, I was just going back as you were asking that question, I think the protocol, I’ve had it, been bitten and then have to get a booster after a raccoon bite. The recommended PEP for exposed persons who have previously vaccinated, booster doses of rabies vaccine on days 0 and 3. As far as I’m aware, they are 100% effective.


Audience Question: How do you determine incubation periods in specific species?

John Griffin: The incubation period is really about where it came in and how far the virus has to travel to get to the brain. The bigger species, it may take longer like it does in humans sometimes it takes longer to incubate. From weeks to longer in some animals. It is correlated to how far the virus itself has to keep replicating on that in the nerve tissue before it can reach the brain stem or get past the blood-brain barrier so that it starts replicating like crazy, you start showing the symptoms and by then, then it’s too late to take action.



Audience Question: If we come across the situation where the dog-owner has raccoons living in their backyard, should we recommend trapping the raccoon so that they can be removed? 

John Griffin: No. Raccoons live in a lot of people’s yards. Some people don’t know that. Most of the time people are not aware of it. They live right under our noses. It’s common. These animals have adapted and flourished in urban areas. They belong there as the – it might think that they don’t because it is a human-dominated landscape or what we might consider marginal habitat. They do belong. There’s no way of removing them and there’s no reason to remove them unless you know has actually been an interaction and an exposure bite or they’re clearly sick or injured. Animals that are just going about in their business would be to they appreciate them and let them do that



Audience Question: Do you recommend testing wildlife that displays symptoms but have not been exposed to a human? Would that help the CDC report? 

John Griffin: I don’t know enough that part of it. It is sort in the realm of rabies surveillance and I think that’s something that sometimes the Department of Health is, that is their jurisdiction deciding if they are interested understanding you know an animal has rabies. I think that’s common practice if the animal is sick, clearly showing those kinds of signs that it often gets tested then those jurisdictions. It ends up going to the system and gets submitted eventually to the CDC for these kinds of reports


Audience Question: Does the vaccine given to domestic animals protect against all variants of the rabies virus? 

John Griffin: It does. The variant is – it is really confusing. The variant is really just connected to the idea that that type of rabies variant is just a little bit different but it still does the same kind. It is still rabies virus to us or to any other animal. It’s just it has some sort of identifying factor to it. It has a preference for that particular species. That is how they kind of track it and they sort of investigate it and there are medical professionals and science folks that are involved in tracking have outlined these 8 different – slightly different from one another and their preference for one or the other of these hosts, the raccoons, the coyotes, the fox, the skunks. It is a confusing thing. It is still connected to the preference to the host species. Vaccine will absolutely respond to, the virus will respond to the vaccine if caught in time.


Click Here to Watch a Recording of Wildlife and Rabies. 



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