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Wolf Dog Coalition - April 30, 1997 USDA Administrator Medley letter to Congressman Wolf

April 30, 1997

Honorable Frank R. Wolf
U.S. House of Representatives
241 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, D.C. 20515-4610

Dear Congressman Wolf:

This is to follow up on our meeting of April 2, 1997, with Mr. Ted Cartwright of your staff concerning the licensure of the canine rabies vaccine for use in wolf-dog hybrids.

Discussions over the last few years regarding the appropriate use of canine vaccines in wolves have centered around the reclassification of domestic dogs into the species Canis lupus. This discussion was generated by the needs of owners of wolves and wolf-dog hybrids for an inactivated rabies vaccine approved for use in their animals.

At a meeting of scientists held in Riverdale, Maryland, in April of 1996, there was general consensus that killed virus rabies vaccines would be safe and probably effective in wolves and hybrids. However there was a concern expressed that modified live virus vaccines against other canine diseases might not be safe in wolves. Without a clear consensus that the immune systems of wolves and dogs were essentially identical, our Agency has taken no action with regard to changing labeling on vaccines for use in dogs.

Wolf and wolf-dog owners have continued to press for changes in labeling. At the April 1996 conference, we outlined some of the things we would consider as a basis for including wolves on the labels of biologicals approved for use in dogs. These included a vaccination challenge study of a rabies vaccine carried out in accordance with the standard requirements outlined in Title 9, Code of Federal Regulations, or reports of studies on the immune systems of dogs and wolves to indicate that they essentially contained the same elements in relatively equal ratios.

At our meeting earlier this month with Mr. Cartwright and interested parties we agreed that the latter requirement would be fulfilled through the submission of the reports of studies that indicate that modified live canine vaccines are safe in wolves.

This study would require administration of modified live virus or avirulent live culture vaccines against Bordetella Bronchiseptica Vaccine, Canine Adenovirus Type 2 Vaccine, Canine Coronavirus Vaccine, Canine Distemper Vaccine, Canine Hepatitis Vaccine, Canine Parainfluenza Vaccine, and Parvovorus Vaccine by a licensed practicing veterinarian or scientist involved in research projects. Statistically, we have determined that vaccination records will be needed from 1,500 animals for each of the vaccines listed to establish significance at a 95-percent probability level. We recognize that it may be difficult to find or develop records on 1500 wolves, so we would accept records on 500 animals considered to be pure wolves and 1,000 hybrids documented to be 50 percent or more of wolf lineage.

Wolves should be individually identified and followed or observed for 3 to 5 weeks. This identification could be a code number, name, or description by which the animal can be identified. Any evidence of disease or other adverse reaction should be included in the report. Our Agency has requested that data submissions be channeled through one source, and Mr. Cartwright has agreed to serve as that source.

We hope this information is helpful.


  /s/ Dr. Donald W. Lushsinger

  for Terry L. Medley

Copy of original signed letter is available upon request.
Contact The Wolf Dog Coalition ( psykowuf@erols.com ).

Copyright © 1998 Wolf Dog Coalition. All rights reserved. Permission to reprint this letter in its entirety granted.

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