This statement is regarding General Race Procedure Rule # 8 pertaining to vaccination requirements to prevent the infectious disease kennel cough.
Kennel cough (infectious canine tracheobronchitis) is a common and highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs. It often is mild and self-limiting, but can lead to pneumonia and death. It is prevalent wherever there are groups of dogs (kennels, dog parks, grooming facilities, etc). The disease can have several causes, but amongst the most common is the bacteria Bordetella bronchiseptica. There are several vaccines available for B. bronchiseptica, and none of them are perfect, but all afford some protection. The Yukon Quest has required vaccination for B. bronchiseptica for many years, and as such sees very little coughing in dogs during the race. The deadline in the rules is science based and reflects the amount of time that the average dog takes to produce antibodies to B. bronchiseptica following immunization.
When debating this matter, we need to not only consider the dogs competing in the race, but the dogs living in communities along the trail, many of which have limited veterinary care and are likely not vaccinated for this (or any) infectious disease.
Cristina (Nina) Hansen, DVM, Ph.D.