September 09, 2007

Cui bono: who benefits?

Not every dog or cat will react adversely to inoculation. Not every injection will trigger illness. Some breeds are pre-disposed to develop immune-related dysfunction. No one can predict which dogs or cats will be affected. One thing is certain: the more frequently shots are required, the greater the chance of vaccine related damage.

According to Catherine O’Driscoll, author and educator, when dog owners who took part in a Canine Health Concern's 1997 study of 4,000 dogs, reported that their dogs developed short attention spans, 73.1 percent of these dogs did so within three months of a vaccine event. The same percentage of dogs was diagnosed with epilepsy within three months of a shot (but usually within days). CHC also found that 72.5 percent of dogs that were considered by their owners to be nervous and easily stressed first exhibited these traits within the three-month post-vaccination period.

At the bottom line, among veterinarians of professional associations and veterinary schools in Texas and nationwide, a “one size fits all” vaccine protocol is ill advised.

Since 2003, The American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA), the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) Council on Biologic & Therapeutic Agents, the American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) as well as immunologists and clinicians at 22 veterinary schools in North America agreed that the safest course is to give vaccinations only when necessary and no more.

“It's time we recognize that animals have individual medical needs and respect their veterinarian’s decisions without threat of the law,” says Penny Leisch, an Austin resident active in animal rescue for 20 years, in favor of rabies medical exemption.

By the same token, a “one size fits all” rabies law based on precedent rather than science is becoming risky business.

Significant economic impact

In fiscal notes, State of Texas officials see no anticipated economic costs to persons who are required to comply with the sections as proposed. Insofar as rabies laws affect small and micro business, this is accurate; relative to economic impact on the public who must comply with rabies laws, “not so much.”

According to cat owners recently facing VAS, surgical removal and post-operative care for cats with injection site cancer is around $6,000. VAS treatment expenses that reach $10,000 are becoming more common. When post-op care includes radiation and chemotherapy, veterinary medical expense easily double those costs to $20,000. Morbidity in VAS cats if high.

In August, users who posted to VetNet, an online forum that is dedicated to IMHA, report that $5,000 covers the initial cost of emergency treatment that includes blood transfusions, drug therapy and close monitoring for a week or longer. Continuing veterinary care adds $7,000 to this. Despite heroic measures, prognosis for survival is guarded.

Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (IMT), hypothyroidism, chronic hepatitis, renal failure, cystitis or lower urinary tract disease (particularly in cats), neurological diseases such as confusion and inability to be "present", asthma, and so on are all associated with vaccine reaction. There are few cures. Treatment to manage the disease goes on – and costs accrue - for the life of the animal.

These costs are just the tip of the iceberg.

Ear and skin conditions are the most common problems veterinarians deal with day to day. Often pet owners report that these begin shortly after re-vaccination and are exacerbated with every subsequent vaccine. Regardless how and when they emerge, chronic, incurable health issues are detrimental to a dog or cat’s quality of life and longevity. Treatment is financially draining to its family.

Cui bono: who benefits?

A study published in 2004 by Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences and the Texas Veterinary Medical Association, reported that 21 million Texans owned pets. In 2003 alone, the financial outpouring of their love and devotion amounted to $2.8 billion for food and veterinary medical services in addition to medicine and supplies.

Now that State of Texas Health Services has turned a deaf ear to requests for a reasonable reform and a blind eye to the multiple negative effects (read economic impact) of an unnecessary and potentially deadly medical procedure, Texas veterinary professionals can expect more pet-crazy clients to ask, “Cui bono: who benefits?"

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