Why did the veterinarian order the vaccination of the puppy with core vaccine component, 3 times at 3-week intervals?
For over a decade canine vaccine has been categorised into core, non-core and non-recommended groups, with canine distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus considered as the core vaccine components. These categories have been further developed and currently form the basis of the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) Guidelines for the Vaccination of Dogs and Cats.
With regard to vaccinations of puppies, the WASVA guide lines recognizes that maternally derived antibody (MDA) significantly interferes with the efficiency of most current core vaccines administered to pups and kittens in early life. The vaccine consists of attenuated living virus and therefore the antibodies identify it and lead to its destruction. As the level of MDA varies significantly amongst litters, the guidelines recommend the administration of multiple core vaccine doses to pups and kittens, with the final dose of these being delivered at 16 weeks or older and then followed by a booster at 6- or 12-months of age.
Vaccination of neonates and infants is problematic with two main issues: the immature immune system of neonates and the presence of inhibitory maternal antibodies.
When a pup is born, its immune system is not fully developed making it susceptible to a variety of infectious agents. Fortunately, this is not the case for most of the neonatal, as they can receive passive protection from their mothers through maternal immunity.
Passive immunity occurs by the passage of antibodies to the fetus through the placenta (~3%), and more significantly, by the absorption of maternal antibodies of the new born through the colostrum (~97%). Defined as the first 12-24 hours of milk flow following birth, colostrum is a highly concentrated mixture of large protein antibody molecules, vitamins, electrolytes, and nutrients. The pup can absorb the colostral antibodies into its blood system through the intestine only for its first days of life; the amount of absorption depending on the strength of each individual pup.
Unfortunately, the maternal antibodies will break down through natural aging of up to approximately 8-20 weeks. At this point the MDA decaying (Blue line in the graph below) may not provide optimal protection and may even act as inhibitor to the effectiveness of the vaccine (In between the two interrupted lines ~8-16 weeks). This situation is highly risky for the exposed and unprotected puppy. To avoid this situation the core vaccines are being given at 3-4 point intervals, as shown in the graph below.
Initial Vaccination (Dogs 16 Weeks of Age)
- Beginning as early as 6 weeks of age, the puppy is administered with sequential doses of a combination vaccine at an interval of 2 to 4 weeks until at least 16 weeks of age.
- Dogs that are 16 weeks of age when presented for initial vaccination should receive a second dose 2 to 4 weeks later.
- NOTE: Dogs residing in a HIGH-RISK environment may benefit from receiving a final dose at 18 to 20 weeks of age. HIGH RISK is a subjective assessment applicable to dogs residing at locations in which the incidence of CDV and/ or CPV is considered to be high; it may also include puppies known to have significant exposure to other dogs or contaminated environments.
- A single dose of a combination vaccine is administered within 1 year following the last dose in the Initial Vaccination series. Subsequent boosters should be administered at intervals of 3 year or longer.
- Measuring antibody levels (quantitative or qualitative) provides a reasonable assessment of protective immunity against CDV, CPV, and CAV2.
Over 50 years ago now, my friend and colleague, Prof. Ron Schultz, and I were the only two people saying we were over-vaccinating pets. I was called irresponsible in public at a large veterinary conference because others were unwilling to consider the idea that vaccines might not always be needed or safe. Since then, people aren’t shooting arrows at us now because our backs are full of them! Joking aside, despite the criticism, we were and remain determined to continue to educate about this topic.
Even today, estimates are that only about 40% of veterinarians are following the current WSAVA, AVMA, AAHA and BVA vaccine policy guidelines. * There is no such thing as an ‘up to date’ or ‘due’ vaccination. Enlightened veterinarians now can offer a package of separated vaccine components, when available, rather than give them all together, since the published data show more adverse reactions when multiple vaccines are administered at the same time.
Summary on Vaccine Policy
AAHA 2003 – Current knowledge supports the statement that
- No vaccine is always safe, no vaccine is always protective and no vaccine is always indicated
- Misunderstanding, misinformation and the conservative nature of our profession have largely slowed adoption of protocols advocating decreased frequency of vaccination
From Prof. Michael J. Day
- Vaccination should be just one part of a holistic preventive healthcare program for pets that is most simply delivered within the framework of an annual health check consultation
- Vaccination is an act of veterinary science that should be considered as individualized medicine, tailored for the needs of the individual pet, and delivered as one part of a preventive medicine program in an annual health check visit
Importantly, pet caregivers should understand that the act of giving a vaccine may not equate to immunization of that animal. Vaccines may not always produce the needed or desired immune protective response, not only if the vaccine itself was inadequately prepared (very rare) but also if the pet is a genetic low or non-responder to that vaccine (quite common in certain breeds of dogs and their families). In the latter case, that pet will be susceptible lifelong to the disease of concern and revaccination will not help and could even be harmful.
In response to issues raised above, vaccine experts recently have recommended new protocols for dogs and cats. These include: 1) giving the puppy or kitten vaccine series later (starting not before 8 weeks of age, except in the cases of outbreaks of virulent viral disease or in orphans or those that never received colostrum from their dams) followed by a booster at one year of age; 2) administering further boosters in a combination vaccine every three years or as split components alternating every other year until; 3) the pet reaches geriatric age, at which time booster vaccination is likely to be unnecessary and can be unsafe for those with aging-related or immunologic disorders.
In the intervening years between booster vaccinations, and in the case of geriatric pets, circulating humoral immunity can be evaluated by measuring serum vaccine antibody titers as an indication of the presence of immune memory (e.g. VacciCheck). Titers do not distinguish between immunity generated by vaccination and/or exposure to the disease, although the magnitude of immunity produced just by vaccination is usually lower.
When to Vaccinate Puppies & Kittens? Which Vaccines are Needed? What About Socialization?
- Should receive MLV or recombinant “Core” vaccines (canine distemper, parvovirus and hepatitis/adenovirus) preferably either at 9-10 and 14-16 weeks of age (minimum protocol), or, at 9, 12 and 16-18 weeks of age
- Rabies vaccines are all adjuvanted killed products and are given as required by law, preferably always given separately from other vaccines, and as late as legally allowed – e.g. 20-24 weeks of age. Thimerosal (mercury) - free rabies vaccines are preferred and safer
- Other vaccines are optional, and depend upon circumstances and disease risk in the area
- For the optional Bordetella or kennel cough vaccines, the oral version is preferred over the intranasal although both offer better protection than the injectable version
- Leptospirosis vaccines protect against only 4 serovars of the organism and are second to rabies vaccines in risk of hypersensitivity and other adverse effects. Use if endemic in the area of concern
- While canine influenza viruses (2 strains; H3N2 and H3N8) are highly contagious, most infected dogs have mild to no clinical issues, unless they develop a high fever and are at risk for secondary pneumonia. Vaccination, while being widely promoted, is still optional
- Three or more days after the last round of puppy vaccines, they can be out and about to be socialized. In the interim period, between 10-14 weeks of age, socialization can take place in the back yard or at puppy training classes with known friends and healthy dogs
- Until fully vaccinated, puppies should not walk on unfamiliar or public grounds; they can be carried about, when needed to travel
- If Titer testing is desired, instead of giving another vaccine after 12 weeks of age, wait until at least 16 weeks of age to avoid measuring residual maternal immunity
- Core vaccines (feline panleukopenia, feline calicivirus, feline rhinotracheitis/herpes) given as MLV or killed, inactivated or intranasal products are started in a 2 or three-dose series beginning for example at 7-9 weeks of age and 12-16 weeks, or at 7, 11 and 16 weeks
- Rabies vaccines if legally required are recommended as for puppies, although cats can receive a recombinant non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine which is preferred over the adjuvanted killed rabies vaccines given to dogs. This non-adjuvanted rabies vaccine is not yet available for dogs
- Some people consider feline leukemia virus (FeLV) vaccine as important for cats, especially those that live outdoors or are indoor/outdoor. Options are a recombinant non-adjuvanted or a killed adjuvanted vaccine
- Feline immune deficiency virus (FIV) vaccine is available in an adjuvanted killed virus vaccine for those cats at similar exposure risk to FeLV.
- Other vaccines (Chlamydia, FIP) are generally not recommended or are optional, and depend upon circumstances and disease risk in the area
- Socialization and Vaccine Titer testing options are as for puppies
*WSAVA-World Small Animal Veterinary Association; AVM A- American Veterinary Medical Association; AAHA-, American Animal Hospital Association; BVA- British Veterinary Association
A vet, having encountered a large number of kittens suspected of Panleukopenia (FPV), approached us at Biogal. The kittens in question were of a private home cattery. The owner noticed that two of the kittens were in a very poor condition. The two sickly kittens were brought to the clinic for hospitalization with a suspicion of FPV. None of the kittens had been vaccinated.
The suspected disease was due to a compatible blood results (Low white blood cells) and suggestive clinical signs.
Slowly, at the cattery, other kittens began to show signs of lethargy, diarrhoea and a lack of appetite.
Feline Panleukopenia Virus (FPV), also known as Feline Infectious Enteritis, Feline Parvoviral Enteritis and Feline Ataxia, is a viral infection affecting cats. It is caused by Feline Parvovirus, Fast progressive with an incubation time of ~2-10 days, highly contagious and can be fatal. The name Panleukopenia comes from the low white blood cell count (Leucocytes) exhibited by affected animals.
Knowing how fatal and highly contagious FPV can be, the owner knew that something had to be done for the sickly and the still healthy kittens. Early treatment and possible isolation of the unaffected kittens, would be wise.
She was glad to hear that the exposed kittens could be differentiated from the healthy ones by using Feline VacciCheck, a simple in-house blood test.
Feline VacciCheck measures IgG antibodies specific to FPV. IgG antibodies rises within days to weeks after exposure to the disease or to vaccination and persist for a long period. In cases with no vaccination history and suggestive clinical signs of the disease the presence of IgG can support the diagnosis.
In young kittens the presence of IgG could be from Maternally Derived Antibodies (MDA). The MDA passively pass to the kittens through colostrum on their first hours of life and disappears within a few weeks from their blood stream.
In this case none of the kittens had been vaccinated. Most of the kittens were estimated to be around 5 months old, where the presence of MDA is less likely. Therefore, the presence of IgG antibodies probably will indicate exposure and will require a close monitoring of the kittens who are at risk and proper disinfection actions to the whole cattery.
Feline VacciCheck testing was run on eleven kittens in the cattery:
The other two antibodies tested are two highly contagious respiratory diseases: Feline Herpes Virus (FHV) and Feline Calici Virus (FCV).
The kittens who showed positive results to all the 3 pathogens, are perhaps those with MDA presence (younger kittens) or those who were exposed to all these 3 diseases (which is very likely in a very crowded cattery).
The two negative FPV kittens were isolated from the others. The whole cattery was properly disinfected with solution of diluted bleach.
All the other kittens, positive FPV IgG, were closely monitored. Being positive means that they had been exposed to the disease but would not necessarily develop the disease. This would depend on the individual immune system of each kitten.
After further investigation, these results were validated using a PCR (Biogal PCRun) technic which confirmed the presence of the panleukopenia virus in all positive kittens.
In total, five out of the nine positive kittens who were closely monitored showed clinical signs and were treated promptly. Thanks to early diagnosis and treatment, the recovery was quick and successful for all five kittens.
Dogs and cats, like humans, are susceptible to certain diseases transmitted by viruses and bacteria. To protect against these invaders, the body has a number of defense mechanisms. The first barriers are the skin and mucous membranes that are found in the airways and intestines. Saliva and stomach acids also ensure that certain pathogens are cleaned up. In addition, there are the white blood cells that move through the body and attack intruders that have penetrated the first barriers.
Finally, the body has an immune system that focuses on specific pathogens. The parvovirus is an example of this. The body’s immune system is subdivided into cellular and humoral defenses. In the case of cellular defenses, viruses and certain bacteria that have already penetrated into the dog's cells are rendered harmless. The humoral defense takes place in the blood and body fluids. An important part of titer testing is the presence of different types of antibodies. The most important for titer determination being the IgG antibodies.
In dogs, we can measure these IgG antibodies in the blood for the following diseases: Infectious Canine Hepatitis, Parvo and Distemper. For cats, we measure antibodies for Feline Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici.
What does such titer determination exactly mean?
The titer of antibodies in blood is the dilution of the blood, whereby these antibodies are still detectable. The blood is diluted and if antibodies are still detected at the highest dilution, this is a high titer. If antibodies are detected at low dilution, this is a low titer.
What is important to know is that the height of the titers is not important, but only the presence of the antibodies. There is no point in vaccinating a dog that still has antibodies that have developed after a previous vaccination. The titers will not be increased. In such a case, we are talking about unnecessary and / or superfluous vaccination.
There are a number of options for determining titers. This can be done in a laboratory by using virus neutralization or a hemagglutination inhibition test. Also available is test that vets can perform themselves. This is VacciCheck and is accepted by WSAVA as reliable, with a good predictive value.
VacciCheck is an in-clinic ELISA-titer test that measures the antibodies in the above-mentioned diseases.
ELISA is the abbreviation for Enzyme-linked ImmunoSorbent Assay. It is a test (assay) in which an antibody reacts (immuno) to an antigen (for example parvovirus) that is bound to a plastic surface (sorbent). To make this reaction measurable, an enzyme (enzyme-linked) is used to generate a color reaction.
The great advantage of this test is that only one drop of blood is needed, and that the result is known after 23 minutes. It is not harmful to the animal and less painful than a vaccination. The result is shown on a white plastic strip with a maximum of 4 gray dots, the upper of which is the positive reference dot. It always gives the same value regardless of the color (3). Then follow the dots for the diseases on which are tested. If the dots are the same color or darker than this reference dot, this means that the titers are positive. A shade lighter than the reference dot is weak positive, the rest is negative. The values range from 0 to 6. Zero and one is negative, two is weak positive, three and four is positive, five and six is high positive.
A different titer can therefore be measured for each disease and, depending on the titer height it would be necessary or not, to vaccinate.
As we obviously want to ensure that our animals do not get sick and can not infect other animals, we will vaccinate at a score of 0 and 1.
If the titers for Hepatitis are negative, then we have no choice other than giving the dog the complete cocktail (DHP). The vaccine against hepatitis is not available separately.
If the titers for Parvo are too low, then we vaccinate the dog with a separate Parvo (P) vaccine.
If the titers for Distemper are too low, then we vaccinate the dog with a cocktail of Distemper and Parvo (DP). In some countries, the Distemper vaccine is not available separately (e.g. Belgium and The Netherlands).
If the titers for Panleukopenia are negative, our only choice is to give the cat the full cocktail (Panleukopenia, Calici and Herpes). The vaccine against Panleukopenia is not separately available.
If the titers for Calici and Herpes are too low, then we vaccinate the cat with a cocktail of Calici and Herpes.
It would be wonderful if the vaccine producers were to market individual vaccines. The demand for Testing antibiody titers (or titer determinations) is increasing at an amazing rate. The vaccine producers could respond perfectly to this, ensuring that dogs and cats are not superfluously vaccinated.
Titer determination makes sense in many aspects, the most important of all, listed below.
When breeding dogs and cats, it would be wise to have titer determination well before the pregnancy to see if the bitch or female cat has antibodies. If positive, then chances are that the pups and kittens will receive these antibodies via the colostrum and are maternally protected. If the bitch or cat has no antibodies, she can still be vaccinated before the pregnancy
- Titer determination is highly recommended for pups and kittens, so determining the right time for effective vaccination.
- Already vaccinated dogs and cats can also benefit. From 3 to 4 weeks after each vaccination, a titer determination can be made to see if the vaccination has actually been effective. Even if the package leaflet of a vaccine indicates that it has been registered for 3 years, one still does not know, without titer determination, if the vaccination has ensured that your dog or cat is protected. In addition, there are also animals who do not respond to a vaccination in any case. This is known as “non-responders”.
- In the vaccination schedule for all dogs and cats to see if a (re) vaccination is needed.
- Dogs and cats with an unknown vaccination status such as animals from abroad, animals that are found, and go to a shelter etc., would certainly benefit from VacciCheck testing. Titer testing of pups and kittens would be good for the general pet population. For example, For example, there are often doubts if puppies and kittens coming from Eastern European puppy or kitten farms have been correctly vaccinated. In this case titer testing gives us a clear answer. It is the same case with pups and kittens with false vaccine labels which are brought into Belgium and the Netherlands. Distemper and Parvo are prevalent in Eastern Europe and pose a serious threat to our pet population.
- VacciCheck, as a titer test, will determine whether dogs and cats have been in contact with a particular disease and have perhaps contracted it.
- For dogs and cats who have had adverse effects at a previous vaccination, for example, an allergic reaction.
- Sick animals, and / or animals on medication, that suppresses the immune system, would do well with titer testing. Most medication package leaflets suggest that sick animals may not be vaccinated.
- Titer testing on older pets is valuable.
It is important that the veterinarian officially states the titration in the European passport of the dog or cat. The values per disease must be stated, as well as the date of titering and the date when a titer determination must be made again. In many cases, the strip is stuck in the passport as proof.
In short, the titer determination is the ultimate means of testing as to whether your pet is protected against infectious and fatal diseases, determining the right time for vaccinating and / or avoiding unnecessary vaccinations.
There are numerous occasions where our pet animals come together - at shows, competitions, animal events, dog schools or dog parks, and we would not want our pet to develop any illness, so unnecessary, so easy to prevent.
The vaccine label in a cat and dog passport, says nothing about the degree of protection.
Measuring is knowing! We do want to know that our pets are protected.
Most puppies are vaccinated several times at 6, 9 and 12 weeks, as it is known that maternally derived antibodies can cause a vaccination to fail. However, is that sufficient? How do you know whether your dog is protected?
Pups are given, right after birth, via the first mother's milk, (colostrum) antibodies, that will protect against infectious and fatal diseases. These so-called maternally derived antibodies are temporary and disappear gradually, but can be present in the blood of the pups for up to 20 weeks or longer. If, however, the mother dog has no, or too few antibodies, the pups will not get them through the colostrum and are unprotected! It is important to protect puppies at the right time by means of a vaccination that stimulates the body to produce antibodies. This ensures permanent immunity.
The goal of a vaccination is to make dogs immune to certain diseases. However, it is a misconception to think that all animals, that have been vaccinated, are actually protected. A vaccination does not automatically lead to protection in young animals, that are still protected by maternally derived antibodies. In the Netherlands and Belgium, pups are usually vaccinated at 6, 9 and 12 weeks. The last vaccine of the puppy vaccination schedule will be administered around the age of 1 year, and then every 3 years they are vaccinated against infectious hepatitis, parvo and distemper.
Most pups are vaccinated several times, because it is known that maternally derived antibodies can block a vaccination. By administering a vaccine regularly every 3 weeks, there is a chance that one will catch. The problem lies in the fact that most puppies get their last vaccination at 12 weeks. As maternal immunity can last up to 20 weeks, and sometimes even longer, there is a big chance that they will walk around unprotected for up to 1 year, the age at which they receive the last vaccination of the vaccination schedule. People mistakenly think that their dog is optimally protected by this vaccination, but there is still at risk of contracting and spreading diseases. The dogs will then go unprotected to dog schools, boarding kennels, shows, competitions, animal events, dog parks and so on.
Optimal vaccination schedules
It would be much better, and more responsible, to adjust the current vaccination schedule according to the vaccination guidelines of the WSAVA. The WSAVA is a scientific committee, which sets out guidelines worldwide regarding the vaccinations of dogs and cats. In these guidelines, it is stated, that among other things, it is not wise to administer the last vaccination before the age of 16 weeks. There are two possibilities:
- A titer determination at 20 weeks. If the result is positive, the dog does not need to receive extra vaccination and the animal can be tested again after a certain period, depending on the result.
- To advance the vaccination normally given at 1 year, to 26 weeks. This is to prevent the animal from walking around unprotected until the age of 1 year.
Most puppy buyers receive a puppy that has been vaccinated once in the litter. Such a puppy can be tested 3 weeks after the vaccination. At that moment, it is not always clear whether the antibodies, that are being measured, come from the mother or from the vaccine. Therefore, a few weeks later, a new titer test is required. If the titers have dropped, then it is certain that these are maternally derived antibodies. Depending on the level of the antibodies (antibody titers) at that time, the pup can then be vaccinated or be retested at intervals of a few weeks, when they are sufficiently low to vaccinate successfully. If the titers remained the same, then this is a sign that the vaccination has been successful. Unfortunately, most puppies in the Netherlands and Belgium are usually only vaccinated against distemper and parvo, so they still have to be vaccinated with a cocktail that also contains infectious hepatitis.
The best and most effective method is to titer test a pup, who has not yet been vaccinated, just before it leaves the litter. If the test shows that sufficient maternally derived antibodies are still present, vaccination is pointless, as the antibodies will neutralize the vaccine. You would then retest the pup, who is probably already with the new owner, after about 3 weeks. If the level of antibodies has declined below the protective level and the level at which a vaccination can immunize, a cocktail containing modified live viruses of infectious hepatitis, parvo and distemper has to be administered.
Subsequently, a titer test is performed about 3 to 4 weeks after this vaccination, to see if the puppy actually has enough antibodies in the blood, and is protected against the diseases mentioned. If this is the case, it means that the dog is immunized and fully protected against the mentioned diseases, by just one vaccination. As the animal is still very young and the immune system has not yet fully developed, a year later it makes sense to test it again to see if the protection is still good. If this is the case, titer testing can be performed triennially, according to the WSAVA guidelines.
The most commonly used titer test is VacciCheck. This is a reliable in-house test which can be performed by the veterinarian himself. Only a very small drop of blood is needed and the result is known within half an hour. The veterinarian must indicate in the vaccination pet passport how long the dog will be protected and thus, a validity period is linked to the declaration, according to Dibevo, KNMvD, NVWA and KMSH.
Introducing a pedigree kitten who has not been tested for FCoV antibodies to your existing cats is playing Russian roulette with their lives
I recently heard about a lady who had seven cats and who introduced a new purebred kitten without first testing the kitten’s blood for FCoV antibodies. It turned out that the kitten was infected with feline coronavirus (FCoV). FCoV is the virus that causes FIP in a small percentage of cats who get infected. However, it wasn’t the kitten who developed feline infectious peritonitis (FIP) …yet … it was one of her other cats.
What surprised me about this story was that the homeowner was no stranger to FIP—she had already lost a cat to FIP and so she should have known just how dangerous this virus can be. She had previously worked to make her household free of coronavirus—yet she introduced a new, untested, purebred kitten, perfectly aware of the risks of doing so: knowing that the prevalence of feline coronavirus in breeding catteries is extremely high.
Introducing an untested kitten or cat—and especially a purebred— is like playing Russian roulette with a loaded gun pointed to her cat’s head. Who knows how many cats this lady will lose before this virus is through with her?
On the other end of the kitty parent spectrum, my heart was absolutely uplifted to see a Facebook post by Maria Bonino: she has a known feline coronavirus (FCoV) carrier cat called Natalie—shown below top right: the beautiful calico cat. Most cats mount a successful immune response and eliminate the virus, but some infected cats remain outwardly healthy, but shed coronavirus in their faeces continuously—Maria has one of those cats. Maria also wanted to obtain a new kitten—two new domestic shorthair kittens, in fact—which came into a rescue shelter near her. Here is a screenshot of Maria’s Facebook post:
You can see Maria’s grey kitten, Lupo in the photo above and the photo of Natalie, her FCoV carrier cat, the tortoiseshell. Amongst the small photographs is her black kitten, Perseus. On Maria’s Facebook page she proudly displayed the FCoV antibody negative certificates of Lupo and Perseus a year after introduction to her household: this was proof that she had kept them safe from the virus and had prevented them being at risk of dying of FIP.
Careful vacuuming and lots of litter trays protected the kittens from becoming infected with coronavirus
Maria was also no stranger to FIP, having lost her beloved Luca some years before to FIP, but she had a different attitude to the person described above: she vowed to never again lose a cat to this virus. Maria vigilantly kept the kittens away from Natalie’s litter tray and she was very careful about hygiene: in her house each cat has their own litter tray, she vacuums diligently using high powered cordless vacuum cleaners, with one vacuum cleaner which she ONLY uses in Natalie’s room and not elsewhere in the house (to avoid contaminated microscopic cat litter particles on the vacuum cleaner itself being transported to the kitten area). She uses World’s Best Cat Litter because it tracks a lot less than other litters and has some activity against FCoV. Every month she sends samples of her cats’ faeces to the University of Glasgow Veterinary School Laboratory in Scotland to monitor their FCoV shedding—or rather complete lack of virus shedding, apart from Natalie. Maria’s Facebook post was in celebration of her success—she proudly displayed her blood test results from the University of Glasgow, showing that the kittens had antibody titres of zero to FCoV: in other words they had not even been exposed to a few particles of this very infectious virus! This result was proof that she hadn’t even allowed a single particle of infected cat litter to blow under the door into the rooms where the kittens were housed! Wow!
FCoV Immunocomb from Biogal
The FCoV Immunocomb gave the best overall results in a study I conducted comparing many available FCoV antibody tests. For screening cats for possible infection, one wants a test which is as sensitive as possible: the Immunocomb was 100% sensitive – it didn’t miss any sample with FCoV antibodies – it had the highest sensitivity of any of the tests examined. The kit is complete and can be used in the veterinary practice, it doesn’t require complex technology to read the results – just an ordinary scanner.
FCoV antibody test any new cat or kitten to save the lives of your existing cats
If you are planning on buying a pedigree kitten, or a shelter cat or kitten, and you already have cats, PLEASE get your existing cats and the new kitten tested for FCoV antibodies BEFORE you bring him or her into your household: if you do not, you could be inviting Death into your home.
If you won’t test your cats, at least have them vaccinated against FIP before introducing a new cat
If you refuse to test, then at least get your existing cats vaccinated with the FIP vaccine Felocell FIP (Zoetis) before bringing in the new kitten. The vaccine doesn’t protect 100% of cats, but it does prevent FIP in about 75% of cats who would otherwise have died.
How you can help to End FIP: share this blog, put up a www.catvirus.com poster
Cats die of FIP because people are not aware of it until too late. We have beautiful posters warning people of the risk of FIP which you can download, print out and put up in a place where cat lovers are likely to see them. The posters are available from http://www.catvirus.com/Choosekitten.htm#Poster
Over the years, Professor Ronald Schultz has been a pioneer in creating vaccination guidelines for our pets.
So when Professor Schultz comes up with the statement “Be Wise and Immunize, But Immunize Wisely”, what is the take home message?
A Concept Change for Pet Vaccination
The routine administration of vaccines in dogs and cats has been one of the most significant factors in the consistent reduction of serious dog and cat infectious diseases.
Although all veterinarians agree vaccines are necessary, the frequency in which some of them are given, is now debated.
It is known that dogs and cats, after vaccination, often maintain protective antibody to what is called the “core diseases” - Canine Hepatitis, Parvovirus and Distemper and Feline Panleukopenia, Herpes and Calici Virus for three or more years. So, our dilemma is knowing that we may not need to revaccinate our pets for core vaccines, how can we know that the antibody levels of our pets through vaccination are indeed adequate?
Titer Testing to Determine Protection for Our Pets
Antibody or titer testing can be used to show levels of protection after vaccinating our pets with core vaccines.
Therefore, when an antibody is present, there should be no need to revaccinate.
How Often to Titer Test?
Professor Schultz has offered the following advice:
“Neither a titer nor annual vaccination is necessary every year because of the core vaccines’ duration of immunity. However, a blood sample taken yearly from an animal for a titer check is preferential to an unnecessary vaccination as a vaccine may cause harm.”
The Canine and Feline VacciCheck are Core Vaccine Tests
One of the titer tests available and, easily performed by vets, in their clinics, is VacciCheck.
VacciCheck tests for your pet’s antibodies and can determine if a dog or cat needs an additional core vaccine vaccination. This may save the dog or cat unnecessary vaccinations.
VacciCheck also confirms if puppies or kittens have received immunity from vaccination.
Also unique about VacciCheck, results can be received on the same day.
So vets now have a quick and simple test that can be performed in their clinic, at a reasonable cost to the pet owner.
It is no wonder that The World Small Animal Veterinary Association recommends in clinic titer testing, such as VacciCheck.
Recently, a veterinarian from a large clinic contacted me as he suspected Parvo disease in "Tommy”, a five month old mixed breed dog.
Tommy was adopted a few months ago from a shelter and since then he has begun receiving all three-core vaccines - Canine Parvo Virus (CPV), Canine Distemper Virus (CDV) and Canine Adeno Virus (CAV), according to the recommended protocol (which is from the age of 8 weeks, at 3 week intervals).
About a week after receiving his last vaccine injection, Tommy began to show suspicious signs of Parvo - loss of appetite, lethargy and watery diarrhea. A blood count test showed no Parvo signs. Tommy was hospitalized because of his poor condition, and still the suspicion for Parvo.
We ran Tommy’s blood sample using VacciCheck in order to get the full picture of his immune status and response to the vaccines. We realized Tommy's immune system responded well to the distemper vaccine and to the Adenovirus vaccine components. However, and amazingly so, no response to the Parvo virus component was seen.
A possible reason for not responding to the vaccine, may be genetically based; Non-Responders who cannot respond specifically to one of the vaccine components (1: 1000 for Parvo, 1: 5000 for Distemper, and 1: 100,000 for Adenovirus). Potential additional reasons may be the presence of maternal antibodies that interfere with the vaccine (which is not common at the age of 5 months), or any other cause like improper vaccine manufacturing or storage which can lead to a non-response to the vaccine.
Two days after being hospitalized, Tommy’s blood count tests showed clear signs of Parvo (↓↓↓Whole Blood Count).
We are glad to note that Tommy recovered. Sufficient Parvo antibodies were found by using VacciCheck, showing the unlikelihood that Tommy is a genetic Non-Responder.
Parvo is a very contagious disease, with high morbidity and mortality rates. The disease breaks out very quickly by attacking dividing cells, such as the cells of the intestine, causing severe diarrhea and bone marrow cells, which aggravate the condition due to secondary infections.
Untreated dogs could die within 2 days after signs of illness appear. The survival percentage in treated dogs is 68% - 92%.
My take home message: in order to be sure that your beloved puppies are protected from this severe disease, it is possible to verify protection by a simple examination, and so avoiding unnecessary suffering and long and expensive hospitalization.
Since the early 1990s, through my organisation, Canine Health Concern, and through articles, books, and lectures, I’ve been working to end the over-vaccination of our dogs. It has been a long, slow, process because, at first, neither dog owners nor the veterinary profession would accept the science. Back in the 1970s, Drs Ronald D Schultz and Tom R Philips published their research findings in Kirk’s Veterinary Therapies. These independent scientists had established that once a dog is immune to the core viral diseases of distemper, parvovirus and adenovirus (canine viral hepatitis), they are immune for years, and probably for life. In other words, we don’t need to vaccinate our dogs annually or, as another modern myth asserts, even three-yearly. This is because immunity, once established, can be lifelong.
Easily available tests to establish immunity are an important piece of the jigsaw in relation to canine health, because – as my extensive research over the years has highlighted, and as the WSAVA makes clear – vaccines are not without harm. A simple in-practice test, such as VacciCheck offers a positive way in which to avoid over-vaccination and build evidence to hopefully put an end to annual and three-yearly shots.
Titer testing is important because every vaccine has the potential to create a wide range of adverse effects. And, as stated in the WSAVA puppy guidelines (http://www.petwelfarealliance.org/uploads/3/0/3/6/3036695/new_puppy_owner_vaccination_guidelines_may_2013.pdf) every reaction to a vaccine that is not needed is unacceptable.
It’s also important to understand that vaccine damage is not the same as, for example, pricking your thumb with a needle and you bleed. Vaccines can disrupt any system within the body, and overt signs can appear within hours, or days, or weeks, or months, or even some years down the line. Contaminated distemper vaccines in the UK and Japan, for example, carry a feline retrovirus RD-114, which can theoretically produce cancer or leukaemia five years after a vaccine event. Other documented vaccine adverse events include allergies, a range of autoimmune diseases, and neurological effects. This makes it difficult sometimes to tie individual cases of vaccine damage in with a vaccine event – but we do have the science supporting all of these links. For those requiring supporting references, see http://www.petwelfarealliance.org/uploads/3/0/3/6/3036695/vaccine_science_research.pdf
Dog owners are becoming knowledgeable
There is something of a revolution in the dog world. Many dog owners are educating themselves on the vaccine issue and choosing to either have the puppy shots done, or to refrain from vaccinating at all. I appreciate that many will consider this to be an irresponsible choice – but since vaccines can be behind what I have called The REAL Epidemic, that is, allergies, autoimmunity, cancer and neurological problems - many consider the vaccine risk to be greater than the viral risk to our dogs. And this is where VacciCheck is proving to be an invaluable aid for responsible, caring, educated dog owners.