The importance of antibody testing as a standard vaccination practice

The importance of antibody testing  as a standard vaccination practice
Antibody testing AVMA

The importance of antibody testing as a standard vaccination practice

The importance of antibody testing as a standard vaccination practice for the detection of canine and feline immunization statuses

With vets and pet owners becoming more aware of the problems that may occur when a dog or cat is automatically vaccinated regardless of whether they need to be or not, there is no wonder antibody testing is becoming a standard of care practice in veterinary medicine. A new study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) investigates

In a recent study published by the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), authors BS Azizeh Egerer, DVM Zoie Schaefer, and DVM Laurie Larson aim to determine the diagnostic accuracy of a point-of-care antibody-screening test according to its sensitivity, specificity, and overall accuracy in cases of canine adenovirus (CAV), canine parvovirus (CPV), and canine distemper virus (CDV).

The problem with “booster” shots and over-vaccination

According to the study, antibody testing has become “a standard practice in veterinary medicine” when it comes to determining whether a pet should be vaccinated or not. While most pets experience discomfort and local swelling at the vaccination site, a mild fever, and usually a decreased appetite and activity, others may suffer from persistent vomiting or diarrhea, severe coughing, hives, and swelling, even to the point of them collapse.

Furthermore, since vaccines include excipient materials such as adjuvants like aluminum, preservatives, stabilizers, and residual trace material, over-vaccination is definitely something to be aware of. With that being said, only around 40% of veterinarians actually follow current WSAVA, AVMA, AAHA and BVA vaccine policy guidelines, thus continuing to over-vaccinate cats and dogs.

Pets most prone to over-vaccination and its harmful effects are adult dogs that come in for their “booster” shots, dogs that have experienced a bad reaction in the past to vaccinations, dogs with health issues or those that have an unknown vaccination history, puppies that have just completed their initial vaccination series, dogs in shelter outbreak situations, and more. In these cases, dogs will receive booster shots that don’t necessarily end up protecting them at all.

1 out of 25 dogs vaccinated with booster shots wasn’t in fact protected at all

The objective of the study was to determine the diagnostic accuracy of the point-of-care dot blot ELISA in comparison to reference Gold Standard laboratory-based assays and other laboratory tests. By doing so, the study aimed to provide vets with an independent evaluation of the ELISA antibody screening kit, including Biogal’s VacciCheck, and to fully understand its strengths and benefits in comparison to automatic booster shots.

The study found that out of 25 dogs that were vaccinated with booster shots, one was lacking antibody and was therefore not protected at all. Furthermore, “administering modified-live viral vaccine ‘booster’ to an already actively immune dog provides no benefit in the face of sterilizing immunity.”

Since as the study points out “failure of vaccine to immunize and subsequent development of disease is most likely to occur in the first year of life” it is essential that the puppy’s antibodies be tested after the initial core vaccine series. “Antibody testing of this population is an invaluable tool to avoid the preventable situation of a ‘fully vaccinated’ patient that is in fact not immunized.”

VacciCheck: a titer test above the rest

That’s where VacciCheck comes into the picture. As the study shows, “the greatest advantage is the speed of turnaround for results—approximately 25 minutes for the index test.” Due to its main advantage, VacciCheck is currently used extensively, as the study discusses, in animal shelters that are undergoing distemper or parvovirus outbreaks. “Rapid determination of protection allows shelter personnel to triage accurately and move dogs appropriately, ultimately saving lives and resources.” The authors of the study also recommend using VacciCheck prior to the transportation of dogs that are transported from high-population shelters to regions with higher demand for adoptable dogs.

Another added benefit to VacciCheck mentioned in the study is that the test can be performed in a clinic setting while the patient and owner wait for results. “This is very convenient for a client who will be traveling with their dog or boarding them soon.” As the study sums up its results, adopting antibody testing as a standard of care in veterinary clinics is essential and “can improve client trust and decrease practitioner liability, while supporting the overarching goal of canine health and immunity against the core viruses.”