Sunday, September 25, 2016

Vaccinations and Titre Tests - Protecting Fionn and other Furbabies

As a practicing veterinarian in 2016, I am extremely thankful for vaccinations - for the health for my human and animal family that I love so much. 

In the human side, we have been able to eradicate many diseases, such as small pox, and reduce the incidence of many others, such as measles, polio, whooping cough, rabies.  On the veterinary side, parvovirus is not as common as it used to be, and I cannot remember the last time I saw a distemper or infectious hepatitis case. Rabies vaccinations in our dogs and foxes (in those continents where it is still a disease) has reduced the incidence of disease in us humans. 

In other words, vaccines are not evil, and vets (and doctors) are not "over-vaccinating" our pets and our children. 

As parents we should be asking (not assuming) that those around us are vaccinated (or if they aren't, what is their medical/veterinary reason for not getting it done). 

Vets are your friend, not foe.

A big congratulations to all loving pet owners who take the responsibility of ensuring their pet is protected against these horrible, fatal diseases.

So what do you do if your pet gets sick from the very thing that is supposed to protect them? 

As a mother, my own son had a vaccination reaction.  I spoke with my GP, and we were able to come up with an option that ensured he was protected, and kept healthy too.  I take vaccinations seriously.... it is not a "jab and run", and I acknowledge that it is not risk free either.

As a furbaby mother, you need to do the same thing. Speak to your vet about your concerns - in many cases, what your pet experienced had nothing to do with the vaccine, and everything to do with a "big day out" and "sensory overload". If it was a vaccine reaction, there are things we can do to make sure your pet is protected.

If you are part of our animalclinic family, then we will discuss with you what is the best thing for your pet - whether it be re-vaccinating, or re-vaccinating with supporting medication or supervision, or titre testing. 

At Russell Vale Animal Clinic, we remain up to date on all things relating to our animals under our care - whether it be vaccinations, surgical sterilisations, microchipping and of course, all of the medical and surgical diseases also. 

We have been providing Triennial vaccinations and Vaccine Titre testing since they were available in Australia, and in recent years, also perform our vaccine titre test on site (faster turn around of results).
Meet Fionn
This is very useful in those cases, like Fionn, who was very sick after his second vaccination when he was 12 weeks old. He was sick for two days.  Whilst he wasn't sick enough to require medications or to be hospitalised, he was sick enough to look at what the options where for him when it was time for his third vaccination.

This is where vaccine titre testing is useful.

It lets us know whether another vaccine will be of any extra benefit for him, and let us determine whether the risk of the vaccine outweighs the benefits. 
You see, as a veterinarian, it is all about risks and benefits.  Nothing in life is risk free - crossing the road, buying a house, meeting your life partner, to something inane like buying a pair of sunglasses.  If you buy the wrong pair, thinking they will protect you against UV light (and they don't), they can still cause damage to your corneas. 

The last thing I wanted to do was to disregard Fionn's parent's concerns.  He was genuinely unwell, and they were scared (understandably so).  My role as a veterinarian was to reassure them that Fionn would be fine (he was), and that we had his best interests at heart (which we do).

We opted to perform a Vacci-chek Titre Test, in accordance with with 2015 World Small Animal Association Vaccination Guidelines.

 It starts with taking a blood sample.  Then when we have 45 minutes clear dedicated time, our vet nurse Tegan runs the test.   For Fionn, it was after our usual consultation time on Saturday afternoon.  Fionn's pet parents were concerned, and wanted fast answers.  Our onsite titre test allows us to do just that.

After going through the various steps (it is 12 step process), the strip magically changes colour. 

We match the top dot against the control.  And that sets it up for the remaining three "dots".

All of Fionn's results were high positive (> 6).  This meant that for him, any vaccination was not going to be of any further benefit for him.  This is great news, as the last thing I wanted to do was to downplay or disregard his parents concerns, but neither did I want to subject him to something that had the potential to cause him harm. 

As a veterinarian, I take what I do extremely seriously, after all, it was all I wanted to do and be since I was in fourth class.  The absolute central core of what I do is what is the best thing for my animals - what is the best thing to keep them happy and healthy always.   

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.  Please, do not ever use the word "over-vaccinating" in front of me, as I hate that word. 
 Vaccines are still the best line of defense we have against many of the diseases that afflict our world. I clap my hands in support of all of the scientists and researchers who work so hard to find cures for the illnesses that affect us and our beautiful animals.