Recent scare stories in the media have highlighted the use of the new Leptospirosis L4 vaccine. L4 refers to 4 strains of leptospirosis, a disease which is routinely vaccinated against in the UK. Despite scare stories that the World Small Animal Veterinary Association (WSAVA) states L4 vaccines should not be given before 12 weeks and Leptospirosis vaccination is not essential, an untruth which WSAVA have refuted, Leptospirosis is common and serious disease in the UK and vaccination from 8 weeks is important.
The stories in the media have suggested that dogs are dying or reacting badly in their thousands to the L4 vaccine and that Leptospirosis is a trivial disease. Neither are true. We have now given hundreds of doses of L4 vaccine and while some dogs have been a bit quiet for a couple of days, none have required any treatment. The reason they have reacted slightly is probably because this is a novel vaccine so the immune system is having to re-learn. Think of its as the same as when we have a vaccination and for a day or so just feel a bit off colour, it is perfectly normal. However we will view any reports of adverse reactions seriously and take the necessary steps.
Because dogs in the UK have no immunity to the new leptospirosis strains it is even more reason to give the L4 vaccine because otherwise they are at risk of serious and potentially fatal disease. The stories have centred on the Nobivac vaccine but we use Versican and also have the previous L2 vaccine available where your dog is not presently at risk. However, within a short time all Leptospirosis vaccines will be the L4 variant so we are rcommending upgrading at the next routine booster.
Slightly less contentious, Versican has also upgraded its canine parvovirus (CPV) component. Parvovirus is common and frequently fatal in puppies and the old vaccine with aCPV2 strain has become less effective. This is something vet Martin Atkinson has been concerened with for several years and has expressed this concern to the veterinary profession and pharmaceutical industry. The new CPV2b strain vaccine is long overdue and now at last reflects the current situation.
On the cat front. One vaccine (Purevax) has a new, more effective, calicivirus (FCV -one form of cat flu) component which is greater than 80% effective while the old one the others use is as little as 40% effective. The problem with FCV is that it is an RNA virus so mutates easily and like the human flu, vaccines can become resistant to previous vaccines hence no vaccine can be 100% effective.
A new safer feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) vaccine is also now provided by the same manufacturer in a combined injection. The older FeLV vaccines could cause a serious, albeit very rare, reaction at the site of the injection, the newer one reduces that risk.
And it's not all cats and dogs. A novel fatal variant of rabbit viral haemorrhagic disease (VHD) has emerged. A new vaccine has been developed as the old VHD vaccine is not effective against VHD2, however this vaccine is not yet commonly available. Meanwhile we recommend using the current vaccine as this also protects against myxomatosis.
We use all the most modern vaccines and after careful risk assessment consider then safe and beneficial to your pets.
St Martins Veterinary Clinic
126 Station Road
Tel.: 01895 444400
Fax: 01895 431520
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