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The importance of vaccination

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The importance of vaccination Effective vaccine production is probably the greatest and most important progress science has made. It has made life far easier and simpler for both mankind and their pets. I have heard senior vets speak of a scourge way back in the early 1980’s that wiped out large number of pet dogs. This incidence was not isolated to India but in fact was seen all over the world. Soon the cause was found to be a virus, which caused a severe gastro-enteritis in dogs and was called Parvo Viral enteritis. Today the incidence of this disease is far less and seen only if the owners have been very negligent in getting their pets vaccinated.All this has been possible only because of the hard work put in by scientists across the globe and yet if owners fail to find time, it is indeed a pity. Often we get to hear owners plead with their vets to save their pets from Parvo or Distemper. And then the hours of tension that are put in to set the pet back on course of health apart from the money and manpower, all point out to the fact that vaccinations are a must.

So in this article I first begin with telling owners about the vaccination schedule we follow in Delhi and then about what diseases they protect against. We start with Distemper at six weeks, which is repeated every four weeks till the age of sixteen weeks. Corona is given at eight weeks and one booster two months later. Anti-rabies is given at three months and a booster a month later. Before all these vaccines are administered, the pet is first given medications against worms and all possible stress is avoided. Therefore avoid giving a bath for a couple of days after the vaccines, avoid long drives, give simple food for a couple of days, etc. These elaborate vaccination schedules are only for the first year and subsequently for every year henceforth only one booster vaccine per disease is warranted.

The Distemper shot normally has six components in it. The first is as the name suggests protection against Distemper. Distemper is a viral disease that causes severe neurological problems and death in a large number of patients. Even those who do survive this initial attack end up with tremors for life. This disease is characterized by initially having a high fever followed by gastrointestinal problems, respiratory ailments and finally the neurological stage. The course of the disease may run as long as two months but owners put their dogs down much before this stage as they cannot bear to see the pain. This is because the dog has continuous fits, bites its tongue, cannot eat etc. I have found no therapy successful but some people have reported success with homeopathy.

Parvo is the next disease and as mentioned is mostly dangerous in young dogs. This does not mean that adults are spared. But the intensity is lower as the age increases. In fact maximum mortality is seen before the age of two months. The reason for this is that this virus affects growing cells and below two months the cardiac cells along with the intestinal cells multiply. This causes sudden cardiac arrests along with the normal hemorrhagic gastroenteritis. Treatment is based on symptoms and good success rates are recorded if the owner is regular with it.The Distemper combination also protects against Leptospira. This disease is rather dangerous as it can cause a sudden kidney and liver failure in dogs of any age. The disease is also known to spread to humans and has zoonotic importance. Most vaccines protect against two of the strains of this disease. The sad part is that the last year has seen the surge of two new strains of Leptospira that are not routinely available as part of the vaccines. Treatment is successful only if the disease is diagnosed early. Care must be taken to avoid getting the disease oneself and proper hygiene must be maintained. 

Parainfluenza virus that causes a hacking persistent cough in dogs and Hepatitis caused by an Adeno virus completes the group that the Distemper combination protects against. The former is known as Kennel cough and has a dry cough that lasts for weeks to an end. Care must be taken that this cough does not get into a secondary pneumonia. All these diseases are best prevented by timely vaccinations.

Corona viral enteritis is protected by the corona vaccine. Here again we have a bloody diarrhea and severe vomiting. The difference between this and Parvo is that the latter is considered more dangerous. The treatment of this disease is with antibiotics to counteract secondary bacterial infections, fluids and multivitamins. Again this disease takes about a week to cure.

Rabies needs no introduction. It has no known cure after setting in, in both man and animal. This disease is spread by the saliva of any infected warm blooded animal. Vaccinations here are two fold, one prophylactically to prevent the disease and the second therapeutically if one is bitten by an animal suspected to carry the disease. I will write another article on rabies later for all the readers. But why not just write in to us and tell us exactly what you want as your next article!!!

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