The Lepto 4 Crisis: To Vaccinate or Not to Vaccinate?

Canine vaccinations are an important and vital ingredient in your dog’s health schedule as well as their monthly flea and worming treatments. Once a dog has had it’s initial vaccinations from 10-12 weeks old, they are only necessary to boost every 12 to 36 months, or extras if you’re planning to travel to certain countries with your canine companion (Rabies, kennel cough etc).

Your puppy’s veterinary visit for their first vaccination will usually occur around 10 weeks of age and at this visit your puppy will be vaccinated against:
Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis (Adenovirus), Parainfluenza and Leptospirosis.
2 weeks later, you will return for a second round of vaccinations, these are like a booster against:
Distemper, Parvovirus, Hepatitis and Leptospirosis again.

vaccine schedule

So What Is The Issue?

Lepto 4 is causing adverse, parvo-like and fatal effects across the UK with dogs becoming extremely ill almost immediately post vaccination. Dog’s temperatures rise, they can have appetite loss, sudden behavioural changes, diarrhoea, vomiting, gastrointestinal bleeding, renal failure, heart failure, blindness, brain damage and death. The amount of reported cases are mounting, yet the vaccination is still on the market with many vets across the country refusing to even acknowledge, never mind discuss the issue with concerned and confused owners.

Leptospirosis is a cork screw shaped bacteria that drills through the skin into the system and slowly infects the urine and blood. It is a zoonotic bacteria, meaning it can be passed from canine to human through bodily fluids such as urine, blood and semen. It attacks the liver and kidney as well as other organs and depending on how quickly it is diagnosed and treatment is begun, it is a nasty infection causing life changing problems and is fatal in 20% of cases, mainly due to the subtle nature of its development. It can cause organ failure and blindness in more severe cases but more common symptoms are:
raised temperature or fever, stiff or sore muscles and reluctance to move, shivering, weakness, lethargy, loss of appetite, depression, increased thirst and rapid dehydration, excessive urination, dark speckled gums, yellow eye whites, increased breathing rate, runny nose, cough, vomit and diarrhoea possibly with blood.

So now we know how awful Leptospirosis is, where does it come from? Well mainly tropical climates with areas of water in humid temperatures, however let’s just say for the sake of the UK, large unclean bodies of water such as warm canals, marshes and bogs. It can also be transmitted in the urine of other animals such as rats and cattle. However, it is rare to actually be contracted in the UK, with the last official statistics of human contraction having been done in 2012 with only 25 cases reported to be contracted without occupational or international cause and only 72 cases in total with 80% of them being traceable back to another country of recent travel or having been in water or on a farm. It should be noted here that people are not vaccinated against Leptospirosis in the UK. There is no official report of cases of Leptospirosis in dogs in the UK, only a estimate from a veterinary game of Chinese whispers, however we can assume it is extremely small, especially if it has not been significant enough to bring about an official report.

However, there is an official report that over 2,000 cases have reported severe adverse affects from the Lepto 4 vaccine and over 150 deaths since 2013 when the new Lepto 4 was brought in.

What’s New & Why Now?

Previously up until 2013, the vaccination against Leptospirosis used was a pharmaceutical called Lepto 2 and protected against 2 strains or ‘serovar’ of Leptospirosis, where as it is claimed that the new Nobivac Lepto 4 vaccine protects against 4 serovars (types) of Leptospirosis.

The noteworthy pharmaceutical components in Lepto 4 compared to Lepto 2 are interesting as they both contain Thiomersal (mercury) which is known to have adverse effects on the brain in both canines and humans, having been found to cause autism and other neurological development issues. However, Lepto 4 also contains a multitude of new noted ingredients; Sodium Chloride (adding a high concentration of salt to our dog’s injections…hmm) causes a sudden increase in thirst, dehydration, vomitting, disorientation and even coma can be caused by this. Potassium Chloride, a key player in the human lethal injection to cause cardiac arrest, can also cause gastrointestinal issues,  and too much potassium in the blood causes hyperkalemia which is the weakness and pain in muscles and movement. Potassium Dihydrogen Phosphate which can cause; renal failure, heart failure, cardiac arrest, high blood pressure and death. Now none of these have anything to do with actually vaccinating your dog against Leptospirosis and were either not present in Lepto 2 or were sneakily not displayed on the ingredients list…

vaccine

What Are the Regulator’s, Manufacturer’s and Veterinary Surgeon’s Saying?

The manufacturer (Merck Animal Health) Nobivac have claimed to have done all the necessary testing on this vaccination and the veterinary pharmaceutical regulators in the UK “Veterinary Medicines Directorate”(VMD) have listed the ‘adverse side effects’, (under statement of the century), in alongside the side effects of the overall vaccinations. They claim there is no way to connect the apparent reported cases of reactions and fatalities to the use of the Lepto 4 vaccine despite the obvious direct relation to dogs who have had the vaccine recently administered.

Yet, the  European Medicines Agency (Eu MCA) managed to find and publish in their report in 2014 that Merck Animal Health should compare the adverse effects of their new L4 to the previous L2 and felt it had significance enough for a mention in the EU report.

Veterinary practices across the UK are rightly facing confused and worried owners, who the majority seem to be subduing with simple reassurances of scare mongering and scientific jargon.

What’s My Opinion?

With 100’s of dogs and puppies in the rescue to initially and booster vaccinate throughout each year, i also face the decision of to vaccinate or not to vaccinate? I have opted to speak with my vet firmly but politely to inform them that my own personal dog will be receiving his annual booster vaccination against; hepatitis, parvovirus, distemper, parainfluenza and kennel cough, but that i do not consent for the Lepto 4 vaccine.

Lepto 4 is not a required or ‘core’ vaccine that dogs must receive in the UK (unlike the others, which i would never skip or advise against). The fact that there are over 300 serovars of Leptospirosis, and the majority of the few cases brought into the UK come from abroad meaning they could be any of the 300 strains, this coupled with a lack of Leptospirosis cases across the country; versus the extremely and significantly high amount of reported illnesses and fatalities directly following an L4 vaccine leaves me with no choice but decide that the negatives outweigh the positives.

In my opinion, the Lepto 4 vaccine should be taken off the market and owners should refuse consent to apply.

If the Merck Animal Health and the UK VMD are so sure that the Lepto 4 vaccine is safe and not the cause of the sudden outbreak of adverse reactions and deaths, then fresh primary screening tests should be done for Lepto 4 alone with particular attention paid to the follow up results in a wide variety of dogs from the isolated vaccine and have the results openly displayed. Currently with no official statistics on reported cases of Leptospirosis in dogs, a lack of information purely on Lepto 4 and an avoidance of the subject from all parties involved, dog owners can’t help but feel like our pets are being used as guinea pigs with devastating effects.

Simply put: refuse the Lepto 4 vaccine.

To support our rescue work with pound dogs across the UK please visit:
www.broken-souls-rescue.org/donate.html
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