Viral Shedding – The foundation for the two-week post vaccination rule.
Viral shedding is the passive transmission of a virus from one mammal to another via mucous membranes, saliva or aerosol droplets via sneezing or coughing. The most common human example of viral shedding is the transmission of the herpes 2 virus. What makes viral shedding so dangerous is that the host spreading the disease is not sick or showing any signs of illness.
A long-coated Akita was born into a litter of seven. The breeder was a popular show dog breeder and happily contacted a rescue group to find a good home for the puppy. At six and half weeks of age six of the puppies went off to the vet to get their first round of vaccinations. All were given a clean bill of health and a Distemper combination shot which included not only distemper but also Parainfluenza, Hepatitis, and Parvovirus. Five days after the rest of the litter had been vaccinated, the long-coated puppy destined for a new home with a pet family was picked up by the rescue group. She was energetic, super fuzzy and looked like a little bear. The new puppy was called Spunky.
Spunky had loose stools and was given chicken and rice to help settle her stomach. By the second day, Spunky’s loose stools got worse and began to include a little blood. The morning that Spunky was scheduled to go to the vet for her own set of vaccinations, she had thrown up twice and her loose stools had become more blood than stool. She went to the vet that day to be diagnosed not for vaccinations. It was determined that she had Parvovirus and maybe Distemper as well. The prognosis was not good.
Spunky was sent home with medications, glucose and saline bags, Heparin syringes, a port in her leg and a sincerely somber, “good luck.” Because Spunky was throwing up and defecating lots of liquid including blood, a bathroom was set up as the puppy ward. Hooks were attached to the shower curtain rod for her alternating intravenous drips every few hours. Four to six hour shifts were taken living in the bathroom in one’s underwear to stay clean and to reduce the spread of Parvo to the other dogs in the house. Hours and hours of caring for, cleaning up after and just laying the tub with the sick puppy was tolerable each time she looked up with appreciative bright eyes. It was sad at times and exhausting but a labor of love. After eight very long days, Skunky kept down a bland meal and started to be a puppy again.
Having had first hand experience with the very real effects of viral shedding definitely played a hand in the decision making process when it came time to create a vaccination policy for The Pet Campus, Inc. Research and discussion went on with not only local vets but also canine immune specialists throughout the country before determining the safest and most scientifically based policy. The two-week stay home rule for Bordetella vaccination has been a standard since 2000 since as it is a modified live vaccine and is commonly administered directly into the nasal cavity. The injectable Bordetella as well as the newer Canine Influenza vaccines are also modified live vaccines and are definitely included in that list.