Thursday, January 21, 2016

What You Should Know About Vaccine Titers-really!

Lets talk VACCINES.  Yes, they do provide important protection against potential serious disease.  And they are a very important part of your cats health care.  BUT ask yourself some additional questions.   How safe are vaccines in MY cat ?  How long does the protection, provided by the vaccination, last in MY cat?  Does MY cat need vaccines every year?

You may be surprised to know that the answers to these questions varies from patient to patient, based on individual health, age, history of previous vaccinations or exposure to  disease (even as a kitten) , outdoor exposure, and the health of other pets in the household.  This is one of the reasons we take a thorough patient  history as it helps me to decide which vaccines I should recommend and how often they should be administered to an individual patient. 

Today I don't want to talk about the importance of vaccinating your cat -I will save that discussion for another day.  Today I want to talk about something new.  VACCINE TITERS.  Recent research may suggest that immunity from vaccinations IN SOME PETS may last longer than the usual one to three years.    If this is the case, then a specific vaccination  could be given less often and still be protective.    But as a veterinarian how do I know what to recommend?   The answer lies with a new technology:  VACCINE TITERS. 

 Vaccines stimulate and have direct affect on the body's immune system.  Vaccination can result, in some cases, in adverse reactions, and in rare cases these can be life-threatening.  .  The most common side effect from vaccines is  localized swelling and pain at the injection site, but a reaction can also include fever, skin rash, loss of appetite, and rarely anaphylactic shock.  Vaccine related cancer, called vaccine sarcoma, is also a rare but possible side effect.   Bottom line:   giving vaccines when indicated by vaccine titers makes the most sense and may reduce the risk of vaccine reactions.
Cats with a history of vaccine reactions would greatly benefit from the new technology: VACCINE TITERS.  Titers  act as a guide in making an informed decision about how often vaccines would be necessary in this type of patient. 
A cat with a chronic disease, for example renal disease,  may not  be healthy enough to receive annual vaccinations.  A protective  VACCINE TITRE , however, would be evidence that this patient has protective immunity against these diseases, and vaccination would  not be necessary. 

VACCINE TITER testing involves collection of a blood sample sent to Kansas State University.  The results show either PROTECTIVE immunity or a NON PROTECTIVE result, allowing  us to answer the question, does MY cat need a vaccination this year.  A vaccine titer test can be done at the same time as annual blood testing.  Let us know if a VACCINE TITRE test is something you may be interested in for your cat at your next appointment.

Dr. Maureen Flatley
Fox Valley Cat Clinic