Vaccine Survivors

 

"Blossom"

Blossom is a 4 year old Landseer colored Newfoundland.
She was a show dog with her Championship,
but more important she is our beloved pet.
She will never be shown again .

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.

Saturday afternoon Blossom was panting more than normal and acted a little tired.

Sunday morning she was panting heavily and more lethargic.

Monday morning 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.

The specialist 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 else.

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.

We repeatedly 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 anaphylaxis shock.

I am now told that a Doberman in this area has died from liver failure after receiving the vaccine.

Another interesting 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.

AIHA is a horrible emotional and financial roller coaster.

Thank you for letting me tell Blossoms story.
Sherrie Hall
Chimney Rock Newfoundlands

"The canine rattlesnake vaccine comprises venom components from Crotalus atrox (western diamondback). Although a rattlesnake vaccine may be potentially useful for dogs that frequently encounter rattlesnakes, currently we are unable to recommend this vaccine because of insufficient information regarding the efficacy of the vaccine in dogs. Dogs develop neutralizing antibody titers to C. atrox venom, and may also develop antibody titers to components of other rattlesnake venoms, but research in this area is ongoing. Owners of vaccinated dogs must still seek veterinary care immediately in the event of a bite, because 1) the type of snake is often unknown; 2) antibody titers may be overwhelmed in the face of severe envenomation, and 3) an individual dog may lack sufficient protection depending on its response to the vaccine and the time elapsed since vaccination. According to the manufacturer, to date, rare vaccinated dogs have died following a bite when there were substantial delays (12-24 hours) in seeking treatment. Recommendations for booster vaccination are still under development, but it appears that adequate titers do not persist beyond one year after vaccination. Adverse reactions appear to be low and consistent with those resulting from vaccination with other products available on the market. The product licence is currently conditional as efficacy and potency have not been fully demonstrated. Based on existing evidence, the UC Davis VMTH does not currently recommend routine vaccination of dogs for rattlesnake envenomation, and the vaccine is not stocked by our pharmacy."

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