A prospective study of 65 research beagles kept in a rabies-free environment was undertaken to determine the duration of immunity after they received licensed rabies vaccines. The eventual goal was to extend mandated rabies booster intervals to 5 or 7 years and help reduce the risk of vaccine-associated adverse events. Three groups of dogs were vaccinated with 1 of 2 commercial rabies vaccines or saline at 12 and 15 weeks of age. Beginning 5 years 5 months later, vaccinated and unvaccinated dogs were challenged with virulent rabies virus and observed for 90 days over a series of 3 trials. Humoral and cellular immune responses were examined by serology and flow cytometry. Brain tissue from all challenged dogs was tested for rabies virus. Challenge trial 1 was confounded due to insufficiently virulent virus. In trials 2 and 3 virulent challenge provided 100% mortality in controls. Vaccinate survival was 80% (4/5) after 6 years 7 months, 50% (6/12) after 7 years 1 month, and 20% (1/5) after 8years 0 months. Antibody responses 12 days post-challenge correlated strongly with survival. In a separate non-challenge trial, administration of either a recombinant or a killed rabies vaccine demonstrated memory antibody responses 6 years 1 month after initial vaccination compared with unvaccinated controls. Our data demonstrated that i) duration of immunity to rabies in vaccinated dogs extends beyond 3 years; ii) immunologic memory exists even in vaccinated dogs with serum antibody titer < 0.1 IU/mL; and iii) non-adjuvanted recombinant rabies vaccine induces excellent antibody responses in previously vaccinated dogs 14 days after administration. READ MORE