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In response to questions about Lyme disease in dogs and the Lyme vaccine, I would like to share the advice that Dr. Ronald Schultz, Chair of Pathobiological Sciences at the University of Wisconsin School of Veterinary Medicine gave me for my 2 dogs, who both receive(d) (one died in July from a mast cell tumor which developed at a rabies vaccination site) 100+ tick bites a summer.
I was concerned after having contracted Lyme twice myself; however, none of the dogs we have had over 30 years were ever vaccinated against Lyme or ever contracted the disease. After getting it myself, I was reconsidering. Dr. Schultz advised me that there was far more risk associated with the Lyme vaccine than there was with antibiotics to treat the disease if one or both dogs contracted Lyme.
He further explained that if they tested positive for Lyme, but displayed no symptoms, then not to treat them with antibiotics because it indicated that they had been exposed to the disease, but hadn't contracted the disease. However, he said, that if they tested positive for Lyme and had symptoms (lameness, fever, lethargy, etc..), then start treatment. Dr. Schultz elaborated by telling me that in vaccinology, immunology, the point is not to prevent infection, it is to prevent disease. In fact, low-grade infections are introduced to elicit immune responses, which is how vaccination works, by introducing an attenuated (weakened) antigen into the animal's system.
Further, he said that a positive Lyme test in an ASYMPTOMATIC dog merely reflects the fact that the dog has been exposed; positive Lyme test in a dog with SYMPTOMS indicates that the animal has contracted the disease and needs treatment.
Based on his advice, I have chosen to not vaccinate my dog(s) against Lyme. Below are links to a few articles on the subject which may help you in deciding whether or not to vaccinate your dog against Lyme.
Lyme is a “killed” vaccine and is associated with clinically significant adverse reactions. According to the 2003 AAHA Guidelines (Page 16),** "…killed vaccines are much more likely to cause hypersensitivity reactions (e.g., immune-mediated disease)." Further, the AAHA task force reports on Page 18 that, **"Bacterial vaccines, especially killed whole organism products …..are much more likely to cause adverse reactions than subunit or live bacterial vaccines or MLV vaccines, especially if given topically. Several killed bacterial products are used as immunomodulators/adjuvants. Thus, their presence in a combination vaccine product may enhance or suppress the immune response or may cause an undesired response (e.g., IgE hypersensitivity or a class of antibody that is not protective)."
Dr. Alice Wolf, Professor of Small Animal Internal Medicine at Texas A&M College of Veterinary Medicine, stated in an address Vaccines of the Present and Future http://www.vin.com/VINDBPub/SearchPB/Proceedings/PR05000/PR00141.htm at the 2001 World Small Animal Veterinary Association World Congress that Lyme vaccines : "are only partially effective and may cause serious immune-mediated consequences in some dogs that are as serious or more serious than the disease itself…..The most reactive vaccines for dogs include leptospirosis bacterin and Borrelia [Lyme]vaccine .".
Canine Lyme, What's New? http://vettechs.blogspot.com/2005/11/canine-lyme-whats-new.html
No Lyme Vaccine for Charlie Nancy Freedman Smith, Maine Today http://www.mainetoday.com/pets/dogslife/006006.html
"It is not a scientifically based recommendation to suggest that all dogs in Maine should be vaccinated with Lyme Vaccine. There may be select areas in the state, "hot spots" where infection is very high and vaccination would be indicated, but dogs in most parts of the state would probably not receive benefit and may actually be at risk of adverse reactions if a large scale vaccination program was initiated. Wisconsin has a much higher risk of Lyme than Maine, however at our Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital (VMTH) we have used almost no Lyme vaccine since it was first USDA approved in the early 1990's. What we have found is infection (not disease), in much of Wisconsin, is low (<10% infection). As you know, infection does not mean disease. About 3 to 4% of infected dogs develop disease. In contrast, in Western and Northwestern parts of Wisconsin infection occurs in 60 to 90% of all dogs. In those areas, vaccination is of benefit in reducing clinical disease. …..... Also, vaccinated dogs can develop disease as efficacy of the product is about 60 to 70% in preventing disease, thus antibiotics must be used in vaccinated dogs developing disease, just like it must be used in non-vaccinated diseased dogs. Therefore, in general areas with a low infection rate <10>50%) then the vaccine will be very useful. Thus, I believe it is irresponsible to suggest that all dogs in Maine should be vaccinated . Veterinarians should know, based on diagnoses in their clinic and other clinics in the area (town), how common the disease would be and they should base their judgment to vaccinate on risk, not on a statement that all dogs in Maine need Lyme vaccine!
Ronald D. Schultz, Professor and Chair
Department of Pathobiological Sciences
School of Veterinary Medicine
University of Wisconsin-Madison
2015 Linden Drive West
Madison, WI 53706"
LYME DISEASE: Fact from Fiction by Dr. Allen Schoen
"**Research at Cornell University veterinary school brings up some suspicion that there may be potential long term side effects of the vaccine, though nothing is certain. These side effects may vary from rheumatoid arthritis and all the major symptoms of lyme disease to acute kidney failure." …... "Many veterinary schools and major veterinary centers do not recommend the vaccine for the same concern regarding potential side effects. "
"I have seen all the symptoms of Lyme disease in dogs four to eight weeks after the vaccine and when I sent the western blot test to Cornell, it shows no evidence of the disease, only evidence of the dog having been vaccinated, yet the dog shows all the classic symptoms of the disease."** - Dr. Allen Schoen
LYME DISEASE by Dr. R. Staubinger
"The Borrelia burgdorferi Bacterin from Fort Dodge Laboratories is currently the only licensed Lyme disease vaccine for dogs. …... In a limited field study it was concluded that the incidence of disease (4.7 percent in infected, non-vaccinated dogs) was reduced to about one percent. However, the vaccine does not protect from actual infection. ….... We cannot recommend vaccination of dogs in endemic areas with the whole-cell bacterin until questions are resolved about clinical Lyme disease developing in dogs that have been properly vaccinated. "
This is a good article that speaks in general regarding the risks associated with vaccines.
In addition a friend attended the Dr. Ron Schultz (he’s the preeminent immunologist who has done much of the duration of immunity research) seminar in March and this is a paraphrase of what he had to say about the Lyme vaccine:
LYME VACCINE - Recommends against, even in New England where 75% of dogs show exposure. Only 1 year DOI. At least 10% false positives. Impossible to really confirm lyme disease. Too many dogs get clinical lyme from the vaccine and it is more likely to cause a worse type of arthritis than the dog would get from lyme disease itself. The vaccine does not prevent infection and really doesn’t prevent the disease either. In Schultz’s opinion: “Lyme disease is a media produced paranoia.” Humanssuffer the devastating effects of lyme much more frequently than dogs. Most dogs will fight on their own. A predisposed dog will get a worse case of lyme if vaccinated than if not vaccinated. In a lab setting, studies show “some” protection. But in actual field studies, the vaccine seems pretty useless. Lyme is easily treated with doxy once clinical signs appear. Lameness/arthritis is generally the first to show up. Only treat if clinical signs of lyme develop. Tests are not reliable since few are adequately trained in reading lab results.
Anyone who wishes to have a copy of the American Animal Hospital Association's 2003 Canine Vaccine Guidelines referenced above, please contact me at email@example.com. I highly encourage people to share this report with all of the dog owners they know!
Duration of Immunity to Canine Vaccines: What We Know and Don't Know, Dr. Ronald Schultz http://www.cedarbayvet.com/duration_of_immunity.htm
The 2003 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines are accessible online at http://www.leerburg.com/special_report.htm .
The 2006 American Animal Hospital Association's Canine Vaccine Guidelines are downloadable in PDF format at http://www.aahanet.org/PublicDocumen…s06Revised.pdf .
Veterinarian, Dr. Robert Rogers,has an excellent presentation on veterinary vaccines at http://www.newvaccinationprotocols.com/.****