NEW MEXICO: Rabies Medical Exemption Action Alert
-- New Mexico pet owners have launched an effort to get a rabies medical exemption clause inserted into the Rabies Code. Below is a copy of the letter I have faxed to the New Mexico State Veterinarian and below that is a copy of New Mexico resident Chryssa Charalambides's letter.
What You Can Do to Help
Contact your legislator and ask them to file a rabies medical exemption bill on your behalf. You can find your legislators' contact information at this link http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/legislatorsearch.aspx
, and please ask everyone you know who may concerned about this issue to do the same. E-mails for the entire New Mexico Legislature are listed at the bottom of this message.
PERMISSION IS GRANTED TO CROSS-POST
July 23, 2010
Dr. Dave E. Fly, State Veterinarian
New Mexico Livestock Board
300 San Mateo NE
Albuquerque, NM 87109
RE: Rabies Medical Exemption for New Mexico Code Title 7 Chapter 4 Part 2 §188.8.131.52
Greetings Dr. Fly:
New Mexico’s Code requiring rabies vaccinations for dogs and cats, Title 7 Chapter 4 Part 2 §184.108.40.206, does not contain a provision to exempt unhealthy animals whose veterinarians have determined their medical conditions should preclude vaccination.
The states of Alabama, Colorado, Connecticut, Florida, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Vermont, Virginia, and Wisconsin all have medical exemption clauses for sick animals in their rabies laws, and a bill is currently pending in the California legislature to include a waiver in its statutes.
The labels on rabies vaccines state that they are for “the vaccination of healthy cats, dogs…,”
and there are medical conditions for which vaccination can jeopardize the life or well-being of an animal. Passage of a medical exemption clause would allow New Mexico’s veterinarians to write waivers for animals -- such as those who have had anaphylactic reactions to vaccination, or suffer from cancer, kidney/liver failure, hemolytic anemia, thrombocytopenia, grand mal seizures, and chronic autoimmune disorders -- whose medical conditions would be exacerbated by rabies vaccination.
The State of Maine inserted the following medical exemption into their 3 year rabies protocol, 7 M.R.S.A., Sec. 3922(3), which became effective in April 2005:
“5 A. A letter of exemption from vaccination may be submitted for licensure, if a medical reason exists that precludes the vaccination of the dog. Qualifying letters must be in the form of a written statement, signed by a licensed veterinarian, that includes a description of the dog, and the medical reason that precludes vaccination. If the medical reason is temporary, the letter shall indicate a time of expiration of the exemption.
B. A dog exempted under the provisions of paragraph 5 A, above, shall be considered unvaccinated, for the purposes of 10-144 C.M.R. Ch.251, Section 7(B)(1), (Rules Governing Rabies Management) in the case of said dog's exposure to a confirmed or suspect rabid animal.”
In the more than 5 years since Maine’s medical exemption went into effect, not one rabid dog has been reported in the state
. Colorado’s data reflect the same -- there have been no rabid dogs reported in the state since passage of their medical exemption in July 2008.
Without a provision for medical exemptions in Title 7 Chapter 4 Part 2 §220.127.116.11, New Mexico’s rabies immunization code thrusts an ethical quandary on veterinarians with seriously ill patients -- they must either violate their Veterinarian’s Oath and administer a rabies vaccine contrary to sound medical practice and against the vaccine manufacturer’s labeled instructions, or recommend their clients break the law by not immunizing their unhealthy pets against rabies. Being compelled by law to vaccinate sick dogs and cats against rabies in order for their clients to comply with the code also puts New Mexico’s veterinarians at risk of being held liable for any adverse reactions the animals may suffer after administering a vaccine inconsistently with the labeled directions. Owners of critically ill dogs may choose not to comply with the law rather than jeopardize the lives of their pets and then fail to license their dogs to avoid detection.
On behalf of The Rabies Challenge Fund Charitable Trust and the New Mexico pet owners who have contacted us for assistance, we urge you to initiate legislation to insert a medical exemption clause in Title 7 Chapter 4 Part 2 §18.104.22.168 of the state code. You may contact me at the number below if you would like any scientific data on the rabies vaccine or if you have any questions.
Kris L. Christine
THE RABIES CHALLENGE FUND
cc: Dr. W. Jean Dodds
Dr. Ronald Schultz
New Mexico Legislature
Dr. Tamara Spooner – Executive Director, New Mexico Veterinary Medical Association
New Mexico Legislators http://www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/legislatorsearch.aspx