We live on a farm
in rural SW Nebraska. We walked out the backdoor one morning
to find a rattlesnake. It struck and missed my husband and
he did away with it. We were on our way to the vet because
our other Newfoundland had a UTI. While waiting at the vet
we saw a poster on the rattlesnake vaccine made by Red Rocks.
I asked the vet what the side effects are. He said the company
is saying a slight swelling at the injection site and that
is what they were finding in their practice. In light of
the snake that morning we decided to have it given to Blossom.
That was Friday June 17. Our other Newf did not get it due
to her UTI.
Blossom was panting more than normal and acted a little
she was panting heavily and more lethargic.
she was taken back to the vet . He did a blood test and
her PCV was 22. He said she had Auto Immune Hemolytic Anemia
(AIHA) and felt it caused by the rattlesnake vaccine. The
vet called the company to report the reaction only to be
told "we have never had a report of AIHA so it must
have been caused by something else." Our vet still
felt it was caused by the vaccine and urged my husband to
take her to Colorado to a specialist. I was out of town
and we did not know how serious this was. My husband wanted
to try treating her in Nebraska. She was put on 80mg Prednisone.
Her blood was tested the next day and she was down to 19.
Wednesday we left
for Ft. Collins Colorado. When she was tested at VCA her
PCV was 12. Her gums were very pale and she was so weak
she could hardly stand. She spent four days in ICU undergoing
a transfusion, blood thinners (AIHA causes the blood to
clump causing strokes), and a chemo drug to lower her white
blood count that was out of site. We were then told the
rattlesnake vaccine caused the white blood cells to attack
her red blood cells killing them and making her anemic.
This was the beginning
of our education on AIHA.
also called Red Rocks and talked to their company vet. He
was also informed they had never had a problem with AIHA
concerning the vaccine so it must have been caused by something
Both our vets
replied "there is always a first time".
We brought a
very weak Blossom home with her PCV at 19. She was a zombie.
She continued on the 100mg Imuran and the 80 mg of prednisone
with weekly blood tests. Her blood count had many ups and
downs but did finally reach 33. Her liver enzymes were rising
rapidly and with each test were much higher. The specialist
in Colorado felt this due to the Imuran and pulled her off.
She continued on the prednisone, still a zombie and now
losing muscle rapidly. Her head became one third the size.
Her belly was enlarged and drooping due to no muscle tone.
The liver enzymes continued to escalate.
questioned both vets on the use of prednisone. Both wanted
her to stay on it. We felt it was killing her. Her PCV had
dropped back to 19 in spite of the Prednisone. We changed
vets. We were adamant that she needs to come off and the
new vet agreed. It was a gamble but we knew she would die
if she stayed on it. He put her back on 100mg Imuran and
cut her prednisone in half. Her PCV started rising. She
was slowly weaned off the Prednisone. Her PCV was 36 on
the last test and she is no longer a zombie. Her liver enzymes
are normal. She is now down to 50 mg Imuran every other
day and IF things hold she will be off in two weeks. It
is now September 30th. and we are out $4500.00 in vet bills
and still counting.
Blossom is moderately
dysplastic but due to her muscle tone she moved perfectly
before all this happened. Now she is showing her dysplasia.
We are hoping as she recovers she will again regain the
muscles in her hindquarters.
I wrote the Red
Rocks company detailing what happened to Blossom after their
vaccine. I received an e-mail back from their research vet
telling me their vaccine could not possibly have caused
this. She said the company had never received any calls
from our vets. My husband or I stood right next to our vets
while they called and talked to the company vet. The email
went on to say it would take 3 months for this to happen
after the vaccination. I had researched the time frame and
AIHA can occur within 24-72 hours to one month post vaccination
but nothing after a month. Three months, Wrong! This vet
also suggested it must be caused by a genetic defect in
my dogs line and to see if her sibling/parents had any problems.
Wrong again! They had nothing. I answered her with the above
information and then received an e-mail from their attorney.
The attorney assured
me Red Rocks was a small company and very concerned about
dogs. They were very concerned that our vets were telling
us they called when the company had no record of it. They
wanted the names of all vets that had ever treated Blossom.
They assumed it was University of Colorado at Ft. Collins
we took her to and wanted to know just who we saw there.
I gave them the names and phone numbers of both vets that
treated her in the acute stage and the ones that called
the company. I felt it none of their business who her vets
were previously and none of their business who her current
vet was. I was also told the company was very concerned
about the statements I was making publicly in regards to
their vaccine. I replied just try to stop me and posted
Blossoms story on every chat group/website I could find.
I have heard
nothing from Red Rocks and it has been over a month. The
vaccine is not recommended by Ft Collins Vet School or Davis
Vet School. Ft Collins has treated dogs that have been bitten
after having the vaccine and found the vaccine made no difference
in treatment from unvaccinated dogs. On Red Rocks website
the FAQ's page states a dog that has previously been rattlesnake
bitten may have the vaccine once the dog has recovered.
Ft. Collins is stating a dog that has been bitten could
develop a sensitivity and giving the vaccine could produce
I am now told
that a Doberman in this area has died from liver failure
after receiving the vaccine.
but sad note, is the vet that gave Blossom the vaccine recently
told us his Golden Retriever died three hours after receiving
the rattlesnake vaccine and another vaccination. He is not
sure which vaccination caused the death.
I have reported
this to every government/vet agency I could find and also
to Jean Dodds DVM.