Sunday, March 22, 2009

Clinical Update for Feline

UPDATE: November 2003

For the past five years during all feline annual examinations, we have discussed the Vaccination Associated Sarcomas and our attempts to reduce their incidence. We are concerned that many of our cat owners may not have made it in for their yearly physical examination and we are dedicated to getting this information out to everyone. Important changes are happening in veterinary medicine. Due to the emergence of Vaccination Associated Sarcomas, vaccination recommendations will be changing for all patients, including dogs.

The facts:

1. One in 5,000 feline patients receiving a vaccine, usually the Rabies or Feline Leukemia containing an adjuvant, will develop a malignant tumor called a fibrosarcoma right at the injection site. It starts as a small lump, called a granuloma. Depending on the cat’s immune system, the lump may disappear within three to four weeks, or it may continue to increase in size, transforming into a malignant fibrosarcoma. Once the tumor forms, it is extremely aggressive locally and very difficult to completely surgically remove. Multiple types of chemotherapy, as well as radiation therapy, have been tried post-surgically to prevent recurrence with variable success.

2. IT IS REQUIRED BY LAW as well as an important preventative measure to continue to vaccinate against the Rabies virus. Not only is Rabies fatal for cats, it is fatal for people and readily contagious through exposure to infected saliva. Multiple occurrences of bats getting into people’s homes and high-rise apartments are reported yearly in Chicago. The state of Illinois may elect to quarantine an unvaccinated cat for up to six months if exposed to a bat.

3. Keeping the above information in mind, we feel uncomfortable discontinuing any Rabies inoculation, even in strictly indoor cats. We had been giving a three-year vaccine, thereby reducing a cat’s exposure to the vaccine by one-third. Since May 11, 1999, Family Pet Animal Hospital has been using the new Purevax Rabies Vaccine made by Merial exclusively for cats. It is the only rabies vaccine made that does NOT have adjuvants or liquid fillers, so it virtually eliminates injection site inflammation that could lead to a vaccine sarcoma. The company has sold two million doses with only a few reported reactions. It is still licensed for a one year duration; the company is about two years away from completing the research required by the FDA for three year approval. Researchers on the Vaccine Sarcoma Task Force have proven this to be the safest Rabies vaccine available. While we wait for further studies to reveal whether it will have longer immune stimulation than one year, we must continue to vaccinate cats annually.

4. All Feline Leukemia vaccines should be discontinued unless there is absolute concern that your cat may be exposed to another cat, especially a stray. This includes indoor-outdoor cats, as well as cats that live in garden apartments and spend time in ground-floor windows with screens that may allow saliva from a stray cat to pass through. When this vaccine is necessary, it is a yearly vaccine after the initial two boosters.

5. The once annual FVRCP vaccine, protecting against Distemper and other upper respiratory viruses, has now been changed to a three-year vaccine as recommended by the American Association of Feline Practitioners. This has been our recommendation since their announcement in January of 1998 even though the vaccine company is still labeling the vaccine as necessary yearly.

6. The Rabies vaccine should be injected subcutaneously as low as possible in the right hindlimb and Leukemia, when absolutely necessary, should be given similarly but in the left hindlimb. The FVRCP should be placed as low as possible on the right shoulder. The thought behind this protocol is that if a tumor should develop it will be easier to treat surgically when located on a limb than on the shoulder area. In addition, we have changed all our vaccines to single-dose vials instead of ten-dose tanks to eliminate the risk of adjuvant settling to the bottom of the vial and having a higher concentration in the last two to three doses.

7. To monitor your cat, run your hands over the area(s) where the vaccine(s) were given. Check weekly for lumps (a hard, knot-like structure) in or just under the skin. Generally lumps are firm and not easily missed. They will usually be nonpainful and be about the size of a marble when first discovered. A lump may form up to THREE YEARS after vaccination. Any lump found should be examined ASAP and we are more than willing to do this at no charge.

8. We are extremely concerned about the emergence of this problem. We have dedicated ourselves to preventing suffering and promoting health and quality of life. Due to vaccinations, we rarely see Feline Panleukopenia or Rabies and have seen a great reduction in cats with Feline Leukemia Virus. We never imagined something so terrible could come from vaccines we were taught were innocuous.

9. A vaccination titer refers to a blood test that measures antibody protection produced in response to the last vaccine given. In other words, does your pet still have protection from the last vaccination given? Does he or she really need this vaccine? These titers are easy to get and reasonably priced. Currently we are recommending taking blood to measure vaccine titers instead of vaccinating any patient with a chronic illness or immune disorder as well as in geriatric patients. Furthermore, it is wise to screen titers from patients of any age each year the FVRCP vaccine is not due, in case the patient’s immunity has decreased. If the titer comes back “protective”, then the patient does not need the vaccine this year and the titer should be rechecked in one year. If the titer is not “protective”, giving the vaccine may be recommended. The exception to this is the Rabies vaccine; this shot is regulated by law in our state and the choice whether or not to give it is out of our hands.

10. Be assured that the doctors at Family Pet Animal Hospital will keep apprised of all changes in vaccinations and Vaccine Associated Sarcoma treatment based on ongoing research by our universities. Our mission at Family Pet Animal Hospital has always been and will always be your pet’s health. We have worked hard to update our facility annually to provide state of the art diagnostics and treatment modalities. Yet, there is nothing that replaces a physical examination for early detection of problems prior to our pets displaying signs of illness. We strongly encourage all of our clients to continue to make a yearly examination appointment; a time to check all systems and educate you on the most current thoughts in our field that may be life-saving for your pet. Please call our office if you have any questions concerning this information.

Source : Family Pet Animal Hospital

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