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January 15, 2012

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Why Vets Don’t Recognize Vaccine Reactions

You take your perfectly healthy dog to the vet for “her shots.” Early the next morning, she has a seizure — her first seizure ever. You rush your dog back to the vet or an emergency clinic and ask if the seizure had something to do with the shot. Odds are, the vet will tell you, No, it’s not the shot! She might a genetic disorder or possibly even a brain tumor. The timing is just a coincidence.

Or … your dog is suddenly having trouble walking after rabies vaccination. Or he suddenly becomes aggressive. You ask your vet if the condition could be tied to the rabies shot. No, it’s not possible, the vet says. He says has never heard of such a thing. But something tells you the condition and vaccine are related.

Of course, not all veterinarians are reluctant or unable to recognize and deal with vaccine reactions. In fact, the practices of vets trained in homeopathy, Chinese medicine, acupuncture, etc. often revolve around treating reactions caused by vaccination. And, happily, many conventional vets are becoming increasingly worried about over-vaccination and vaccine reactions. But these vets are not the norm.

Many people have written me that they have had to fight with their vet to even get a vaccine reaction considered and noted in their dog’s or cat’s file. The vet doesn’t even want to call the vaccine maker to report or inquire about the reaction. After you do extensive Internet research, your suspicions grow. You see another vet, or maybe post on this blog looking for answers or you e-mail me. You wonder: why are vets so reluctant to admit that a vaccine (or vaccine combo) caused a reaction? Here are some potential reasons why.

Primary vets don’t see every vaccine reactions because pets are often treated at emergency clinics or by specialists and not reported back.

An emergency clinic vet told me about a Basset Hound she had diagnosed with immune-mediated thrombocytopenia. She asked the client if the dog had been recently vaccinated. Finding that he had, she called the Basset’s primary vet to inquire about the vaccine. The primary vet, surprised by the call, asked, “Do you see a lot of immune-mediated disease after vaccination?” She told him she did, usually about 3-4 weeks later. Astounded by the news, he admitted he was glad he hadn’t vaccinated his own dogs in 8 years. He continues to vaccinate clients’ dogs annually.

Vets lack sufficient education.

Dr. Ronald Schultz, a member of the AAHA Canine Vaccination Task Force (in 2003, 2006 and 2011) and the WSAVA Vaccination Guidelines Group, has said: “Our new [vet school] grads don’t know a heck of a lot more about vaccines than our older grads. And I’ve figured out why this is. They know a lot more about basic immunology, but they don’t know about vaccinology and the two are not the same.… So we haven’t gone very far from where we were ten years ago or twenty years ago with regard to training veterinarians about vaccines.” (Hear Dr. Schultz talking about this in our Safer Pet Vaccination Benefit Seminar DVD. )

Most continuing education is done by drug company representatives calling on veterinary practices — to sell vaccines. Their message is that vaccines are safe and reactions are extremely rare. Vets buy the products and the message. Despite studies showing that each additional vaccine given during one visit dramatically increases the chance of an adverse reaction, reps peddle products with as many as 7 vaccines to be given at once — with no warnings. Hear safety claims enough and the claims become the truth, whether they are true or not.

Vets don’t want the blame for harming your pet.

No veterinarian wants to harm an animal. It’s more comfortable to blame the problem on coincidence, genetic defects, other medications, etc.

Vets don’t tie the reaction to the vaccine unless it happens almost immediately.

Here is what the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) tells dog or cat owners to watch for after vaccination. Note that most reactions listed are only those happening almost immediately:

Discomfort and swelling at the vaccination site
Mild fever
Decreased appetite and activity
Persistent vomiting or diarrhea
Hives
Swelling of the muzzle. face, neck or eyes
Severe coughing or difficulty breathing
Collapse
Respiratory distress occurring 2-5 days after your pet receives an intranasal Bordetella [kennel cough vaccine]

This list fails to include reactions like shock and death – 8.3% and 5.5% respectively of reactions reported to the USDA. It also doesn’t include vaccine reactions happening within three or more days after vaccination – despite a major study published in the AVMA’s own Journal in 2005. And what about reactions occurring weeks, months and even years after vaccination?
http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/09/30/vaccinating-small-dogs-risks-vets-arent-revealing/

Here is the list first handed out in 2007 by Dr. Ron Schultz regarding adverse events known to be induced via vaccines http://www.dogs4dogs.com/cv:

Common Reactions:

Lethargy
Hair loss; hair color change at injection site
Fever
Soreness
Stiffness
Refusal to Eat
Conjunctivitis
Sneezing
Oral ulcers
Moderate Reactions:
Immunosupression
Behavioral Changes
Vitiligo
Weight Loss (Cachexia)
Reduced Milk Production
Lameness
Granulomas/Abscesses
Hives
Facial Edema
Atopy [allergic hypersensitivity]
Respiratory Disease
Allergic uveitis (Blue Eye)
Severe Reactions Triggered by Vaccines:
Vaccine injection site sarcomas
Anaphylaxis [life-threatening shock]
Arthritis, polyarthritis-HOD hypertrophy Osteodystrophy
Autoimmune Hemolytic Anemia
Immune Mediated thrombocytopenia (IMTP)
Hemolytic Disease of the newborn (Neonatal Isoerythrolysis)
Thyroiditis
Glomerulonephritis
Disease or Enhanced Disease which with the vaccine was designed to prevent
Myocarditis [inflammation of the heart muscle caused by infections, viruses, or immune diseases]
Post vaccinal Encephalitis or polyneuritis
Seizures
Abortion, congenital anomalies, embryonic/fetal death, failure to conceive fertility

Vaccine manufacturers generally test vaccines for reactions for only one year, with the exception of the 3-year rabies vaccine. Testing is expensive so they do only what is required to get approval. After approval, vets seldom report reactions and the USDA rarely takes action unless an inordinate of animals become seriously ill or die. Even then, vaccines are rarely pulled off the market unless they affect human health. Thus, vaccines are considered safe and reactions don’t really happen!!!

Vets may worry that they did something wrong.

Did your vet fail to tell you about possible reactions? Did he/she vaccinate an unhealthy dog against vaccine label warnings? Was the vaccine given less than two weeks after another vaccine, increasing the likelihood of a reaction? Or given with multiple other vaccines or medications? Or given without examining the dog or cat first? Or was the wrong vaccine used? Or had the vaccine been improperly refrigerated?

Vets aren’t taught how to treat many of the reactions.

Conventional vets generally treat vaccine reactions with corticosteroids, antibiotics (just in case they’re needed) and/or Benadryl no matter what the reaction is. Conversely, holistic vets treat reactions with diet, supplements, acupuncture, herbs, homeopathy and a whole bag of tricks. You have to “believe” in reactions to want to learn how to treat them.

Vets worry they failed to get your “informed consent” before vaccination.

Informed consent means that the vet should have told you about possible reactions and also explained why the shot was necessary before vaccinating. Unfortunately, the great majority of revaccination of adult dogs is unnecessary and never explained. (See Vaccinating Dogs: 10 Steps to Eliminating Unnecessary Shots.) If your dog had a vaccine that wasn’t needed and then suffered a reaction, your vet might worry about a lawsuit or reprimand from state authorities — or unwanted attention from the media.

Vets don’t want to lose your business.

Vets don’t want to bother reporting the reaction to the vaccine maker.

Despite repeated requests by veterinary organizations to report all suspected reactions, it is suspected that only 1% are reported. Reporting is time consuming.

Vets are told by superiors not to admit responsibility.

This can be a particular problem for junior members of a practice operating under the rules of the senior partners or practice owner.

Vets have to believe vaccines are safe.

Vaccines are a big part of veterinary business, both for the direct income derived from vaccines and the office visit, but also for income from medications and other sales and services stemming from the visit — and also for income derived from treating reactions. If they see reaction after reaction, particularly from unnecessary vaccination, they may feel the need to change their policies or change jobs. Please read Lifelong Immunity – Why Vets Are Pushing Back for more details on why veterinarians continue to over-vaccinate - http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2011/12/14/lifelong-immunity-%e2%80%93-why-vets-are-pushing-back/

No matter why your vet isn’t at least considering a vaccine reaction, when something adverse happens after vaccination, it is important to educate yourself. Allow only those vaccines required given your dog’s age, locale and lifestyle. Ask to read the package insert to learn about what reactions are possible. (Don’t presume the vet has read it.) Learn to recognize a vaccine reaction when you see one and push your vet to consider a reaction if you suspect one. And read What to Do When Your Dog Has a Vaccine Reaction for help in treating your dog, reporting the problem and contacting the manufacturer to try to recover your expenses - http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2010/12/02/what-to-do-when-your-dog-has-a-vaccine-reaction/

There’s an old medical adage: when you hear hoofbeats, think horses, not zebras. That is, when something bad happens to your dog after vaccination, think vaccine reaction, not brain tumor! Trust your instincts!

Part II.
Titer Test: Don’t Vaccinate Your Dog Unnecessarily
By Jan Rasmusen


Titer Testing: a Simple Blood Test

Enlightened veterinarians and pet parents have become increasingly wary of the health risks, and lack of benefits, associated with repeatedly vaccinating dogs after their initial “puppy shots.” Is titer testing the solution to the over-vaccination problem? Here’s a crash course to help you muddle through the mire of misinformation surrounding this simple blood test, and to help you decide whether or not to test your dog’s antibody titers.

What is titer testing?

A titer test (pronounced TIGHT er) is a laboratory test measuring the existence and level of antibodies to disease in blood. Antibodies are produced when an antigen (like a virus or bacteria) provokes a response from the immune system. This response can come from natural exposure or from vaccination. (Note: titering is also called serum vaccine antibody titering and serologic vaccine titering.)

How is the test performed?

Your test result will have an explanation of what your pet’s test result means. But if you want to know more, here’s the test in a nutshell: First, one mL of blood is drawn. The sample is then diluted. Titer levels, expressed as ratios, indicate how many times blood can be diluted before no antibodies are detected. If blood can be diluted a 1000 times and still show antibodies, the ratio would be 1:1000. This is a “strong” titer. A titer of 1:2 would be weak.

Should I test for all diseases?

The most recommended test examines antibodies for both parvovirus and distemper, the two most important viruses. Rabies titers are also often tested. Usually, for most dogs, tests for other diseases are generally not considered useful or necessary.

Why test?

The parvovirus/distemper test can help you or others (vets, groomers, kennel owners, etc.) determine if your dog requires additional vaccination, and may save your dog unnecessary shots. It is especially useful when making a decision about vaccinating an animal with unknown vaccination history, or for determining if puppies have received immunity from vaccination (more below).

Most experts believe strong titers are a more reliable indication of immunity than vaccination: tests show the actual immune response, not just the attempt to cause an immune response by vaccination. Do not expect, however, that everyone will accept test results in place of proof of vaccination.The subject of immunity is complicated, and we are programmed to think of vaccination as “the gold standard” — the more, the better. Experts who challenge the status quo are often maligned. Humans don’t like change.

How often should I test titers for parvo and distemper?

You’re going to have to decide for yourself. Some vets recommend testing yearly, but this can be expensive. Others test every three years. Still others test five to seven years after vaccination. Why? Challenge tests show that successful vaccination against parvovirus gives most animals at least seven years of immunity. Distemper provides immunity for at least five to seven years.*

Dr. Ron Schultz, one of the most renowned pet vaccination experts in the country, believes that once a test yields strong titers, you need not test again. In Dr. Jean Dodd’s article on vaccine reactions, she quotes Dr. Schultz on the value of testing titers: “an animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum).”
http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/08/06/treating-adverse-vaccine-reactions-by-jean-dodds-dvm/

Does a weak titer mean that the dog needs a “booster” shot?

Maybe not for dogs that have previously shown strong titers. Many experts, including Dr. Schultz, say the dog’s immune system will have produced “memory cells” that will produce antibodies when they’re needed. Think of memory cells as reserve forces. When known foreigners invade, they remember how to attack them. Dr. Shultz has said, “show that an animal with a positive test has sterilizing immunity and should be protected from infection. If that animal were vaccinated it would not respond with a significant increase in antibody titer, but may develop a hypersensitivity to vaccine components (e.g. fetal bovine serum).Read more about memory cells here. Read pages 5-6 of Antibody Titers vs Annual Vaccination by Richard Ford, DVM for more information.

Should I test my puppy?

Yes! If so, when? Ideally, puppies should have had their last vaccination after 16 weeks of age then should be tested to see if further vaccination is necessary. There’s an excellent discussion about testing puppies in the 2006 American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) Canine Vaccine Task Force Report (page 13) entitled What Are The Possible Applications of Serologic Testing? It reads, “Such titer testing is the only way to ensure that a puppy has developed an immune response after vaccinating.”

What do titer tests cost?

Testing costs vary widely from practice to practice, so shop around. Some vets do in-house testing. Others use outside labs. Some mark up tests and services a little; others, a lot. You should be able to have parvo/distemper tests done most places for less than $100. Rabies tests, on the other hand, can cost considerably more, in large part because they are sent overnight to a lab. (Ask your vet to have a Titer Testing Day so that they can send multiple tests in one package and save considerably on shipping costs.) Consider contacting Hemopet, Dr. Jean Dodd’s nonprofit organization, for their pricing and her excellent reading of results. When comparative shopping, make sure pricing includes blood draw and shipping.

Wait! Before jumping to the conclusion that vaccinating is much cheaper than testing, remember that testing can be a one-time (or at least rare) expense and is no riskier than any simple blood draw. Vaccinating, on the other hand, can potentially cause a lifetime of illness.

Should I test for rabies antibodies?

The rabies titer test will give you an indication of your dog’s immunity if he or she is at particular risk for contracting rabies. It may also be required prior to international travel. Test results will NOT be accepted by Animal Control and most others as a substitute for vaccination of healthy dogs as required by law.

If your dog has documented health problems or documented adverse reactions to shots, your vet may be able to get your dog an exemption to rabies vaccination. (Learn more at www.Truth4Dogs.org.) A rabies titer test is not usually necessary when requesting an exemption but may be useful when re-applying for a denied exemption. It may also give you and others piece of mind if you’re contemplating an exemption.

(Note: a French challenge study has shown rabies vaccination gives immunity for at least five years. In the U.S, the Rabies Challenge Fund is doing concurrent tests for five years and seven years to extend the period between shots. This important nonprofit study is funded solely by donations from dog lovers like you.)
http://www.dogs4dogs.com/blog/2009/08/06/treating-adverse-vaccine-reactions-by-jean-dodds-dvm/

Can I test titers immediately after vaccinating? To get an accurate test, you must wait at least 14 days after vaccination before testing.

What if your vet, groomer, spouse, best friend, kennel owner or day care proprietor says titer testing is “voodoo science,” that your dog needs continued vaccination even if testing indicates otherwise?

Know that vets out of school longer than 10 years received little or no immunology or vaccinology training in school; they shouldn’t be considered experts unless they’ve devoted hundreds of hours to research and training. Others who want to influence you may have no training at all and may be acting out of fear. Do your own research and advocate for your dog.

I hope I’ve given you enough information to make reasoned decisions. The subject is hardly black and white; it is riddled with shades of gray. I’d like to thank veterinary crusaders against over-vaccination Drs. Margo Roman and Tamara Hebbler for their help with this article, and Drs. Jean Dodds and Patricia Jordan for answering my many questions about vaccination over the years.

Where can you learn more?

Visit my web page Vaccinating Dogs http://www.dogs4dogs.com/, and also the articles and videos archived on this blog by clicking the “Vaccination” link. For in depth information in an easy to read format, see my “Rethinking Vaccination” chapter in my award-winning book, Scared Poopless: The Straight Scoop on Dog Care

source:From: dogs4dogs@aol.com
Source:luswinton@aol.com


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