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LEPTOSPIROSIS VACCINATION NOT RECOMMENDED FOR PUPPIES

News Release, prepared by Kansas State University

Friday, November 13, 1998

MANHATTAN -- Veterinarians at Kansas State University's College of Veterinary Medicine say that people trying to protect their puppies by vaccinating them against certain diseases could be doing more harm than good.

The vaccine for leptospirosis, for example, used to be a regular on the list of vaccinations given to puppies, but the risks of the vaccine have begun to outweigh the benefits.

Leptospirosis is an infection caused by a bacteria found in the droppings of animals, including rats, mice and cattle. The bacteria is contracted orally, most often from drinking contaminated water. It can be passed from one animal to another.

Alan Brightman, professor of clinical sciences, said leptospirosis is a devastating disease that destroys internal organs, often causing kidney failure or liver disease. It is not found often anymore, though.

State and local laws require that dogs be vaccinated against rabies, which cannot be done before the dog is 12 weeks old. K-State's canine vaccination protocol dictates that puppies receive the distemper, hepatitis, parainfluenza and parvovirus vaccinations. These vaccines often are administered together in a "cocktail." Brightman said these are given to puppies at least six weeks of age and are repeated every three to four weeks until 16 weeks of age to make sure they take effect. K-State veterinarians do not recommend giving the leptospirosis, coronavirus or lyme disease vaccinations.

According to Bill Fortney, assistant professor of clinical sciences, it is not uncommon for dogs to have a reaction to vaccines, causing other difficulties including death. One of the problems with the leptospirosis vaccine is that it causes more reactions than the others.

Fortney cited the following reasons for not administering the leptospirosis vaccine to puppies:

* Puppies sometimes have reactions to vaccines and there are more reactions to the leptospirosis vaccine than most others.

* Leptospirosis is not often seen anymore.

* The vaccine does not protect the puppy very well.

* The vaccine costs around $7.

 

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