An open letter to representatives of the veterinary profession and government regulators

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An open letter to representatives of the veterinary profession and government regulators

Post by Char » Sun, 09 May 2010 14:31:34

Veterinarians in countries such as Australia, Britain and the United
States continue to mislead pet
owners with ill-founded vaccination advice, insisting they have their
pets revaccinated annually
or triennially with modified live virus (MLV) core vaccines for
parvovirus, distemper virus and
adenovirus when there is no evidence to support this ongoing practice.

In Australia, articles in the media over the past few months indicate
that pet owners are still
being bombarded with inconsistent, confusing, and misleading messages
vaccination of companion animals.

In January 2010, I contacted Warren Foreman, President of the South
Australian Division of the
AVA, regarding an article titled Canine deaths mystery published in an
Adelaide newspaper in
December 2009, which included the recommendation that owners should
immunise their dogs,
at a cost of $60-$90, even if the animal was vaccinated last year.16 I
asked what was the
scientific rationale for this revaccination recommendation and, in a
rather tortuous response, he
indicated that pet owners in Struggletown (i.e. a low socioeconomic
area) are unlikely to be able
to remember when their pet was last vaccinated, so the message needs to
be kept simple, i.e. a
yearly vaccination visit.17 This paternalistic and non-evidence based
attitude regarding
vaccination is unacceptable.

Dr Lawrie, you were recently interviewed for an article in the Gold
Coast News titled Gold Coast
dogs in danger of parvo. The article concludes: All puppies should
receive a parvovirus vaccination as part of their vaccine regime, and
then get yearly boosters.18 (My emphasis.)
Dr Lawrie, how does this advice sit with the AVAs policy on dog and cat
ratified by the AVA Board in June 2009, and information in the
scientific literature and
international dog and cat vaccination guidelines re long duration of
immunity, (probably
life-long), with MLV vaccines?

The article in the Gold Coast News also refers to a national
disease-tracking database, Disease
WatchDog. This database was also referred to in an AVA media release
dated 3 March 2010.
The AVA media release noted that the database was launched by Virbac
Animal Health in
February 2010.19 This industry-funded database is not accessible to the
public. What action is
the AVA taking to ensure that transparent and reliable epidemiological
data on disease is
freely available to the public? At the moment dubious media advertorials
about anecdotal
parvovirus reports, which promote indiscriminate revaccination of dogs,
appear to be the only
publicly accessible information on parvovirus in the community.

An article by veterinarian Aine Seavers, published in the April 2010
edition of The
Veterinarian, a magazine targeted at the veterinary industry, also gives
cause for alarm for
pet owners. Complaining about the AVAs new vaccination policy, Seavers
refers to the
unseemly haste with which we are being pushed to move from a proven
safe good science to a
new science as yet unproven20 She appears to be unaware that
vaccination has been a
controversial topic since at least the mid-1990s. I also take issue with
her comment that
vaccination is a proven safe good science. I have already addressed
the problem of nonevidence
based, and possibly harmful, vaccination extensively in my research
documents, copies
of which have previously been forwarded to you Dr Lawrie. (Refer to
links provided at the end of
this letter.) In particular, I refer to the risk of adverse reaction to
vaccination in my report Is
over-vaccination harming our pets? Are vets making our pets sick?
(refer to pages 13-21)21, and
my submission on the National Regulatory System in relation to
Unnecessary, and possibly
harmful, use of companion animal vaccines (refer to pages 13-19)22.
Seavers concerns about unseemly haste, are ironic given that The
Veterinarian raised this topic
ten years ago with an article titled The needle and the damage done?
by Jonica Newby,
published in 2000. At that time, Newby reported that the Australian
Veterinary Association and
Australian Small Animal Veterinary Association had adopted a policy of
wait and see on
vaccination practice.23
After nearly ten years of waiting and seeing, during which time pet
owners in Australia continued
to be kept in the dark about the vaccination controversy, and pressured
to have non-evidence
based annual MLV core revaccinations for their pets, the AVA finally
announced its new triennial
dog and cat vaccination policy in August 2009, after campaigning by
concerned pet owners24,
and negative publicity in the Sydney Morning Herald25 26 and on the
ABC27. The AVAs new
policy on vaccination of dogs and cats, and other related matters, is
currently located on the AVA
websites Home Page.28
Seavers is now demanding that the AVA should remove the current
information on the OPEN
page of the AVA website29 This is an outrageous request and indicates
that some
members of the veterinary profession are still unwilling to objectively
inform pet owners of
crucial information contained in the scientific literature and the
latest international dog
and cat vaccination guidelines.

According to Seavers, she has personal correspondence from the AVA that
veterinarians who want to continue annual vaccination saying our
policy still allows for this.30
Dr Lawrie, does this mean the AVA agrees with pet owners being denied
the opportunity to
make an objective and properly informed decision about evidence based

Seavers ironically calls for a more even-sided conversation in this
debate31, but fails to
recognise that the major stakeholders in companion animal health, i.e.
pet owners, have been
unjustly excluded from this conversation for many years.