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WSAVA Injects Fresh Wisdom Into Vaccination Guidelines

Updated guidelines serve as a strategy, not “a mandatory edict,” for veterinarians.

The World Small Animal Veterinary Association’s vaccination paper aimed at pet owners and breeders shows symptoms of, from left, feline herpesvirus, canine adenovirus and feline calicivirus.

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The World Small Animal Veterinary Association has updated its vaccination guidelines for the first time in five years using continued emphasis on evidence-based medicine and recognition that a one-size-fits-all approach is impractical.

The document, available at http://bit.ly/1Q3lXtg, identifies three core vaccines for dogs (distemper, adenovirus and parvovirus) and three for cats (parvovirus, calicivirus and herpesvirus). However, the organization’s Vaccination Guidelines Group acknowledged that core vaccines may not be administered widely in certain areas of the world, especially if a disease occurs infrequently or if economic and lifestyle factors intervene.

“These guidelines are not a mandatory edict but rather should be used by national associations and individual veterinary practices to develop vaccination schedules relevant to the local situation,” the guidelines note.

Rabies is one disease that may be worthy of a core vaccine in one region and a noncore, or optional, vaccine someplace else.

“In areas of the world where rabies virus infection is endemic, vaccination against this agent should be considered core for both species, even if there is no legal requirement for routine vaccination,” the WSAVA guidelines state.

Compared with the 2010 guidelines, the updated document, released Jan. 6, offers:

  • A greater understanding of maternally-derived antibodies (MDA) in puppies and kittens.
  • An option to administer a booster vaccine to puppies and kittens at 6 months old instead of the previously recommended 12 months.
  • Reclassification of the feline immunodeficiency virus (FIV) to noncore status.
  • Expanded discussion of titer testing.
  • Realization that many vaccines now carry a three- or four-year duration of immunity instead of a one-year minimum. In some countries, a manufacturer “has not applied for a change in its product label recommendations or … the national licensing authority has not permitted the change to be made,” the guidelines state.

“In this instance,” the document notes, “the veterinarian my use a vaccine according to guidelines (and therefore current scientific thinking) by obtaining informed (and documented) owner consent for this deviation from manufacturer’s recommendations (off-label use).”

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The guidelines, first released in 2007, are a popular download on the WSAVA website, said guidelines group chairman Michael Day, BVMS, Ph.D., Dipl. ECVP.

“[They] are gradually driving a change in vaccination practice throughout the world, a change which is set to have a major impact on day-to-day small animal practice,” Dr. Day said.

A second document written for dog and cat owners and breeders explains animal diseases and vaccinations in layman’s terms. It is available at http://bit.ly/1OZKGjk.

“We hope [the two documents] will prove even more helpful and ensure that more small animals are vaccinated in a more scientifically-based, robust and safer fashion,” Day said.

The 45-page document for veterinarians includes additional frequently asked questions. Among the 110 entries:

  • Do any feline leukemia virus vaccines provide protection with only one dose? No. All feline leukemia virus vaccines require a minimum of two doses.
  • Should the large dog (great Dane) be injected with the same volume of vaccine as the small dog (Chihuahua)? Yes. Unlike pharmaceuticals that are dose-dependent, vaccines are not based on volume per body mass (size) but rather on the minimum immunizing dose.
  • How long after stopping immunosuppressive therapy do I wait before revaccinating a pet? A minimum of two weeks.
  • What protocol is recommended for an unvaccinated adult cat? Two doses of MLV vaccine (FPV, FCV, FHV-1) plus one dose of rabies vaccine in endemic areas.

The guidelines try to ease veterinarian concerns that less frequent vaccinations could lead to fewer office visits, more unhealthy animals and a decline in revenue.

“Unfortunately, many clients have come to believe that vaccination is the most important reason for annual veterinary visits,” the document states.

“It is therefore essential that veterinarians stress the importance of all aspects of a comprehensive individualized health care program. … The importance of dental care, proper nutrition, appropriate diagnostic testing and the control of parasites and of zoonotic diseases should be addressed during evaluation of each pet.

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“Discussion of vaccination is simply one part of the annual health check visit.”

The Vaccination Guidelines Group’s industry sponsor is MSD Animal Health, also known as Merck Animal Health in the United States and Canada.

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