Limiting the Risks
Many things come to mind when speaking about sanitation. Most OwyheeStar clients have immaculate homes and yards. The shocking truth is the cleanest yard can still pose a threat to the young Weimaraner puppy. To understand this risk, you must know how this virus is transmitted and how it manages to survive.
The Whole Dog Journal explains the Parvo virus
(Click Here to read the entire article.)
- It is the smallest and simplest of the microscopic infectious agents called viruses, which cause disease by replicating within living cells, parvovirus consists of a single strand of DNA enclosed in a microscopic capsid, or protein coat. This protein coat, which differs from the envelope of fat that encases other viruses, helps the parvovirus survive and adapt.
- Infection takes place when a susceptible host inhales or ingests the virus, which attacks the first rapidly dividing group of cells it encounters. Typically, these cells are in the lymph nodes of the throat. Soon the virus spills into the bloodstream, through which it travels to bone marrow and intestinal cells. The incubation period between exposure and the manifestation of symptoms such as vomiting and diarrhea is usually three to seven days.
- How parvo spreads
Veterinary experts agree that virtually all of the world’s dogs have been exposed to canine parvovirus. The virus begins to “shed,” or be excreted by a dog, three to four days following his exposure to the virus, often before clinical signs of the infection have appeared. The virus is also shed in huge amounts from infected dogs in their feces for 7-10 days; a single ounce of fecal matter from a parvo-infected dog contains 35,000,000 units of the virus, and only 1,000 are needed to cause infection.
In addition, the virus can be carried on shoes, tires, people, animals (including insects and rodents), and many mobile surfaces, including wind and water. Because it is difficult to remove from the environment and because infected dogs shed the virus in such profusion, parvo has spread not only to every dog show, veterinary clinic, grooming salon, and obedience school, but every street, park, house, school, shopping mall, airplane, bus, and office in the world.
While a dog that is diagnosed with parvo will be quickly isolated by his veterinarian and his recent environment will be cleaned and disinfected, some infected dogs have such minor symptoms that no one realizes they are ill. Infected dogs, with or without symptoms, shed the virus for about two weeks. If conditions are right, the virus can survive for up to six months. Although parvo is destroyed by sunlight, steam, diluted chlorine bleach, and other disinfectants, sterile environments can be quickly reinfected.
- Vaccines: Imperfect protection
Properly administered, vaccines protect most puppies and dogs from parvovirus. But there are cases of vaccinated canines contracting the disease.
- Dr. Dodds offered numerous explanations as to why, sometimes, the parvovirus vaccine fails to work as intended.
First, she made clear, no vaccine produces 100 percent protection 100 percent of the time. “Vaccination is not a sure thing,” she explained. “It certainly improves the odds that an animal will be protected from disease, but it does not guarantee this. There is no way, even with the best vaccines, to be sure that any given individual’s immune system will respond in the desired way to protect that animal.”
Not all dogs have perfectly functioning immune responses, and, similarly, not all vaccines function perfectly, either. “There will always be an occasional case of a ‘vaccine break,’ which is what we call it when a vaccine fails to protect an individual against an infectious disease challenge,” said Dodds. “However, when a break occurs, if the animal has been appropriately vaccinated, it will usually experience only a mild form of the disease.” Dr. Dodds speculated that this is the most probable explanation for what happened with the infected puppy mentioned above.
“While there are some rare exceptions, where an appropriately vaccinated animal nonetheless experiences a lethal form of the disease, it is far more typical that such an animal will experience only a mild form of the disease and will recover quickly,” she said.
THE OWYHEESTAR VACCINE PROTOCOL REQUIRES THE TITER TEST INSTEAD OF A 16-WEEK PUPPY SHOT. THERE ARE MANY REASONS FOR THIS RECOMMENDATIONS.
Trouble with titers
“There are two types of titer tests commonly offered by most veterinary medical laboratories,” Dr. Dodds explained. “One type is intended to detect whether or not a dog has the disease (a viral infection); the other type of titer test checks the level of immunity the dog received from vaccination. In the latter case (a vaccine titer test), antibody levels are expected to be several titer dilutions lower than those conveyed by active viral infection.
“When a veterinarian requests an immunity or antibody level measurement for parvovirus or other disease, the laboratory typically assumes that disease diagnosis, rather than vaccine immunity, is to be performed. When the lab technicians do a test to see whether the dog has parvovirus, they start with a much greater dilution in the test system than is normally used for the detection of vaccine titers. They do this to conserve reagent and reduce cost of testing. But because vaccine titers are lower than disease titers, they won’t be detected until the test reagent dilution is set lower.
“I’ll put it a different way: If they utilize disease exposure methodology, when what is really wanted is a test to assess the adequacy of vaccination, the results will be negative nearly every time,” said Dodds.
While this scenario sounds like an obvious oversight, Dr. Dodds said she has seen it numerous times. Given her expertise and research on vaccine-related issues, many veterinarians consult with Dr. Dodds regarding supposed vaccination failures.
“I’ve seen it again and again: The owner calls me and says, ‘But I keep vaccinating this animal, and my veterinarian keeps testing him and there is no immunity; what do I do?!’
“Very often,” said Dr. Dodds, “it’s a case where the veterinarian looked at the lab catalog and selected the test called ‘Parvovirus Antibody’ rather than the intended one, which would be ‘Parvovirus Vaccine Antibody’ or ‘Parvovirus Vaccine Titer.’ Meanwhile, the poor animal has been vaccinated repeatedly and unnecessarily, and when we finally get the correct measurement, we find that the animal actually had good immunity all along.”