Animal health group embarks on vaccination 'myth-busting'

Dog at Vet

Earlier this year, the Internet was filled with posts claiming that dogs suffered illnesses, and in some cases, deaths after they were vaccinated for leptospirosis, a disease that can spread from animals to humans, causing fever, headache and bleeding, among other symptoms. If untreated, the disease itself can be fatal. Nevertheless, the scare triggered many owners to question whether their pets really needed the vaccine. Such doubts run parallel to a growing trend by parents to refuse vaccines for their children on safety concerns.

In response, the global animal health organization HealthforAnimals has released a new guide promoting animal vaccinations. With the document, the group hopes to dispel false notions and emphasize that vaccines protect both animals and humans from emerging diseases.

HealthforAnimals’ guide takes on 9 myths, such as “traces of the vaccines are in the food we eat” and “I don’t eat meat so animal vaccination doesn’t affect me,” along the way pointing out that vaccines serve a vital function in animal and human health. The organization also dispels the belief that vaccine risks outweigh their worth, explaining that they are “safe and efficient, and only on rare occasions can cause side effects.”

Several questions persist about whether some pet vaccines are necessary, particularly those that have entered the market recently to fight canine flu. But most veterinarians advise pet owners that traditionally prescribed vaccines like rabies and distemper are vital. Leptospirosis is a newer vaccine, but it has also been generally endorsed by the vet community.

HealthforAnimals is hoping to tackle many owners’ vaccine anxieties head on with its guide. In a statement, the group said that human cases of rabies can be reduced nearly to zero if 70% of a local dog population is vaccinated. It added that vaccines may help reduce antibiotics use in animals, which has been fingered as a major cause of the rise of antibiotic-resistant superbugs in people. 

“Prevention is better than cure," the organization’s executive director, Carel du Marchie Sarvaas, said in a statement. "By ensuring animal health and wellbeing through vaccination, as well as herd health plans and proper hygiene, we can also work towards reducing our use of antibiotics.”

- here's the release
- and the guide

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