Tuesday, August 3, 2010
For animals who previously experienced an adverse reaction to vaccination or are at genetic or physiological risk, one alternative is annual monitoring of serum antibody titers. If the test shows protective titers, the animal should not need re-vaccination until a later date. This quick and simple blood test for rechecking of antibody titers can be performed by your veterinarian at 6-month or yearly intervals thereafter.
What is titer testing? A titer test (pronounced TIGHT er) is a laboratory test measuring the existence and level of antibodies in blood. Antibodies are produced when an antigen (like a virus or bacteria) provokes an immune response. This response can come from natural exposure or from vaccination. (Note: titering is also called serum vaccine antibody titering and serologic vaccine titering.)
If you are one of many, who worry about vaccine safety or over vaccinating your dog, this affordable alternative can be asked for from your veterinarian.
Common sense dictates that sick, very old, and debilitated animals should not be vaccinated. Similarly, immunocompromised and febrile animals should not be immunologically challenged with vaccines until their physiologic state returns to normal. Animals of certain susceptible breeds or families (e.g., Akitas and Weimaraners) and including those with coat color dilutions (e.g., double-dilute Shetland sheepdogs, harlequin Great Danes, albinos) appear to be at increased risk for severe and lingering adverse reaction to vaccines.
A detailed veterinary medical study from Sweden examined the duration of serum antibody response to common dog diseases. The results reveled that vaccines are recognized to give longer-lasting immunity than what was thought and few animals actually benefit from annual boosters. Revaccination may be needed only every 3 to 5 years, if at all. In humans, once the series of vaccinations in preschool and school-aged children is completed and college students are revaccinated during disease outbreaks (e.g., measles), protection against these diseases is generally assumed to be lifelong.
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