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Mark Billadeau

Lyme Vaccines

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We've had another dog come up positive for lyme and since we've not been very dilagent with Frontline we are reconsidering vaccinating for lyme. I did not know there is now a 3rd type of lyme vaccine on the market.

 

There are now three types of vaccine available. The killed whole spirochete vaccine (Fort Dodge's vaccine) uses intact dead spirochetes injected into the host. By using the entire spirochete, the host is exposed to parts of the organism that are not useful in immunization and may lead to vaccine reaction. The next type of vaccine is felt to be superior in preventing reactions and that is the recombinant vaccine (Merial’s vaccine). This vaccine generates antibodies specifically against OspA, the surface protein the spirochete uses to attach to its tick host. When the tick bites and sucks blood full of Anti-OspA antibodies, the spirochete’s migration sequence is blocked and the spirochete is prevented from even exiting the tick. The vaccine utilizes DNA for OspA cloned into a harmless virus so that the entire Lyme spirochete is not used; only the OspA DNA is used. The third type of vaccine (Intervet-Schering-Plough's vaccine) targets a protein called OspC as well as the surface protein OspA. The idea is that the OspC antibodies kill any Borrelia that have not been de-activated by the OspA antibodies, providing enhanced protection.

 

Source: Marvistavet: Lyme Disease

 

Pfizer (Wyeth/Fort Dodge): LymeVax

Merial: RECOMBITEK Lyme

Intervet-Schering-Plough: Nobivac-Lyme

 

Has anyone used the new Nobivac-Lyme vaccine yet?

 

Mark

 

P.S. The new vaccines are not cheap. Recombitek-Lyme runs $400 for 20 doses and Nobivac-Lyme runs $400 for 25 doses both are annual vaccinations and 2 doses will be needed if starting a new vaccine. Treatment of lyme runs <$20 for a 30 day course of doxycycline.

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Hi Mark-

 

I have always vaccinated for Lyme and in conjuction with being pretty anal about the topicals and prob. alot of luck, haven't had any dogs test positive yet. I haven't used the new vaccine but will.

 

Happy to split a batch with you if you want. Catch me at Hop Bottom if you're interested.

 

Lori

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Lori,

 

With all we have going on, the vaccine prices really put us off: $400 this year (new vaccines need 2 doses) and $200 annually. I think for now we'll stick with Frontline, testing, and treatment when needed (<$20 for full course).

 

Mark

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I'd be interested to hear about that, too. My dog Sky has had Lyme vaccinations every year since we got her, which means twice now. I don't know which one, but it's $35 at our vet, have to ask next time which of those 3 they use.

 

We use Frontline Plus religiously, and still, at the last heartworm/lyme disease snaptest she tested positive for the lyme. So the vet did the other, more conclusive test, to see if it was just a false positive reaction to the vaccine, but no, she tested positive for actual lyme. I had found exactly 3 ticks on her late last fall, and promptly removed them. Sky never showed any symptoms at all. The test results were in the very, very low numbers, and the vet said, most doctors wouldn't even treat, but we did a round of antibiotics to be on the safe side. Our vet seemed to think that the vaccine protected Sky from getting a worse case of lyme, and thinks we should continue with the routine vaccination every year.

 

I hate ticks. Of course we live in an area now considered a hot bed for Lyme (Southwest Michigan-Berrien County)... only a few years back there were hardly any cases, now the vet says they see tons of dogs that have been infected.

 

:(

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Have you tried tick collars for the dogs? I put Preventic collars on mine after finding engorged ticks on two of the dogs despite using Bio-Spot (which has worked just fine for my dogs for the past 5 years). I haven't vaccinated for it in the past, but if the tick collars don't do the trick keeping ticks off I'll probably get them vaccinated.

 

I'm also in SW Mich and am considering getting the two dogs rechecked for Lyme disease. They were clear on their test this spring.

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BTW The Snap test has good specificity (low false positive rate) but the sensitivity is not as good at the lab titers. Our recent positive dog was negative on the snap test but slightly positive in the lab titer. I've been seeing physical signs for several weeks (lack of physical and mental stamina while working).

 

Another note: Preventic collars are a carrier for a topical that spreads over the body in the body oils on the skin in much the same way the topicals work. The active ingredient paralyzes the mouth of the tick.

 

Mark

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Hmmm...I've been testing mine periodically using the Snap test but may need to rethink that. I hate that the symptos can be so vague, and usually I just have a Snap test done if I pull a tick or the dog comes up lame with no explanation. Of course, the Snap test also allows me to check on the efficacy of my HW prevention program. Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't just get lab tests done when I suspect Lyme instead, though it could get expensive.

 

J.

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Julie, I think I would continue using the Snap test; however, if you still suspect an infection follow up with the lab titer.

 

Jody has been odd while working; not sharp and not really giving me 100% effort. Our first thought was Lyme so we had the Snap test run. I even followed that negative result up with 1 week of doxy to see if there was a change. After a week there was no change. A week later I was working her and I still had this nagging feeling there was something physically wrong so she went in for a senior blood panel and exam. The panel came back negative so we had the blood tested with the tick panel. She came back marginally positive for Lyme. These Lyme tests look for antibodies produced by the dog against the infection; I guess Jody is running a low infection.

 

Mark

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Hey Mark,

As I was walking the dogs today I wondered if it wasn't Jody you were talking about, given your recent comments about how she wasn't working very well. It must be a relief to know there's a real reason for it.

 

Common wisdom is that if they don't make a remarkable, rapid turn around on doxy then it likely isn't tick disease, but I guess Jody's case just proves that nothing is set in stone.

 

I probably will just continue the way I have been. When Ranger came up lame not long after I pulled a tick off him, I had the test done and it came back negative. The vet did say that if I saw any other suspicious symptoms we'd likely just go straight to doxy, but so far he's been fine.

 

I hope Jody gets back to her normal self after a full course of treatment.

 

J.

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is there anything on the horizon to prevent RMSF? I've not had Lyme here, but RMSF has caused some issues.

 

I also have cats, so the tick collars are not a great options

 

JulieP - my dog was never lame, but has potassium/sodium imbalances on labwork, skin problems (repeated and horrific hot spots over the lumbar back and flanks), weight loss, and mental issues (whiny, nervous, refusal to do known and liked tasks) that had us on a chase for kidney/adrenal type diagnosis Treatment helped, but he's chronic and has splenic enlargement from scar tissue from the disease.

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Have you tried tick collars for the dogs? I put Preventic collars on mine after finding engorged ticks on two of the dogs despite using Bio-Spot (which has worked just fine for my dogs for the past 5 years). I haven't vaccinated for it in the past, but if the tick collars don't do the trick keeping ticks off I'll probably get them vaccinated.

 

I'm also in SW Mich and am considering getting the two dogs rechecked for Lyme disease. They were clear on their test this spring.

 

 

Maralynn,

 

Since the Frontline seemed to work great, I hadn't considered any other topical protection ... I hate to expose my dog and us to even more chemicals all the time. Also, I thought in combination with the vaccine, she'd be "safe". Oh well, there goes that theory. The Snap test was positive, and then they sent in blood to IDEXX lab for the quantative C6 test -- it cost $70 for the first time, I guess if you need additional tests it's cheaper. The high cost makes it not really a test you would just do routinely, especially if you had several dogs .... The test can differentiate between simply exposure or actual, active infection. The Snap test doesn't, if I understood correctly. And if your dog doesn't show any symptoms, you're none the wiser.

 

They also now seem to think that the ticks don't have to be attached as long as they used to believe to transmit diseases. Plus there is the ongoing debate over the vaccines and their effectiveness and safety. I'm getting more confused about this issue the more I read or talk to my vet.

 

Also a lot of dogs get infected, fight it off, and never get sick. I guess that's the best we can hope for after you did everything else.

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Maralynn,

 

Since the Frontline seemed to work great, I hadn't considered any other topical protection ... I hate to expose my dog and us to even more chemicals all the time. Also, I thought in combination with the vaccine, she'd be "safe". Oh well, there goes that theory. The Snap test was positive, and then they sent in blood to IDEXX lab for the quantative C6 test -- it cost $70 for the first time, I guess if you need additional tests it's cheaper. The high cost makes it not really a test you would just do routinely, especially if you had several dogs .... The test can differentiate between simply exposure or actual, active infection. The Snap test doesn't, if I understood correctly. And if your dog doesn't show any symptoms, you're none the wiser.

 

They also now seem to think that the ticks don't have to be attached as long as they used to believe to transmit diseases. Plus there is the ongoing debate over the vaccines and their effectiveness and safety. I'm getting more confused about this issue the more I read or talk to my vet.

 

Also a lot of dogs get infected, fight it off, and never get sick. I guess that's the best we can hope for after you did everything else.

 

I hear you on not wanting to use more than needed - part of the reason I've never gotten them vaccinated against Lyme. The other part is the risk associated with it and the fact it doesn't always work....

 

After I found the ticks on two on Kipp and Kenzi I decided I needed to try something else. One of our SAR training sites in South Bend is pretty much tick central this time of year. Sigh. Hence the Preventic collars (about $10/each through Amazon). Right now I feel almost like it's 6 of one half a dozen of the other whatever route I go with tick/Lyme prevention.

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Yeah, I'm sighing right along with you, Maralynn! :) Sky had no problem with the vaccine by the way, but I understand your caution.

 

And if I dream of ticks tonight, it's Mark's fault ... interesting articles, though.

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One of my dogs had a bad experience with the Lyme vaccine booster shot a few months ago. Both of them got the booster shot at the same time on a Saturday afternoon- Jinx was fine, he had no issues, but Zoey became very lethargic, almost lame by the evening (I had to carry her up and down the stairs) and remained that way until Monday morning. I was worried, but she was still eating and drinking normally, so I figured she would be ok. She seemed completely back to her old self when Monday rolled around with no issues, but I would never give that to either of them again.

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Be aware that while one manufacturer's Lyme vaccine may cause a reaction in a dog another manufacturer's Lyme vaccine may not (this is also true for all vaccines). This is because each vaccine is a mixture of several things and each of these items could cause an adverse reaction. These other items are not always the same from one vaccine to another. Also, it was common for the older Lyme vaccine (Fort Dodge) to cause an adverse reaction and the second gen Lyme vaccine (Merial) was formulated in such a way to address the issue of adverse reactions.

 

Mark

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I was using Ft. Dodge and had a dog test positive this year for the first time ever. I switched to Meriel and did a first vax plus booster on all my dogs to make sure I got full coverage. Fingers crossed that I never see another positive. Almost lost my Dad to Lyme and he has permanent damage to his heart thanks to the disease.

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My vet's practice has just switched to a different Lyme vaccine. It apparently confers protection against 8 surface proteins instead of just two. They haven't used it long enough to know whether this provides a substantive advantage. Don't know whether this is the Meriel you're referring to, I'm afraid.

 

We live in Tick Central USA. About 75% of unvaccinated dogs here test positive for Lyme. So, even though the vaccine is no guarantee, we went with it. It apparently reduces the severity if a dog does catch Lyme.

 

We do use Frontline as well as a tick collar. (I've found ticks on Duncan when he was only on Frontline or Vectra, though I've managed to do so before they were engorged). We do have a cat, but the dog and cat don't cuddle together, so I don't think the cat is at risk from the dog's tick collar. I'm not in favor of lots of chemical exposure but ticks, in my opinion, merit all-out warfare.

 

There's no way I'd ever spot a deer tick (something the size of a poppyseed) in his coat.

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Jody has been odd while working; not sharp and not really giving me 100% effort. Our first thought was Lyme so we had the Snap test run. I even followed that negative result up with 1 week of doxy to see if there was a change. After a week there was no change. A week later I was working her and I still had this nagging feeling there was something physically wrong so she went in for a senior blood panel and exam. The panel came back negative so we had the blood tested with the tick panel. She came back marginally positive for Lyme. These Lyme tests look for antibodies produced by the dog against the infection; I guess Jody is running a low infection.

 

Mark

Thanks Mark for this description, this describes my dogs recent attitude. I recently had his thyroid tested which came back fine, but your description seems on the money so I will be taking Brody back to the vet this week to test for Lyme.

My dogs are not vaccinated against Lyme, my vet has always said that the vacacine is not very effective and I have been reluctant to add another shot to the already large collection they seem to get.

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Update on Jody.

 

She has been on doxy for a little over 1 week (100mg 2x per day). While I did not trial her at Hop Bottom this year (I pulled her before we found out she was slightly positive to Lyme) I did use her some to set sheep for the novice classes (Monday & Tuesday). She was more like her old self; just not tuned-up and not as fit. I saw some beautiful management of sheep on her own which I was not getting prior to this.

 

Mark

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