Are you debating whether to titre test a fully vaccinated new kitten?

Are you debating whether to titre test a fully vaccinated new kitten?

VacciCheck | Antibody Titer Test

First, you should understand that vaccination does not always result in immunization i.e. following completion of the entire vaccination protocol some kittens may still not be fully protected from acquiring one of the core diseases (Feline Panleukopenia Virus, Feline Herpes Virus and Feline Calici Virus).

Why does this happen? Well there are several reasons:

  1. While the kittens are still nursing, the dame passes onto her litter protective antibodies which are called “Maternally Derived Antibodies (MDAs). These antibodies will protect the kittens from infection but also, at the same time, interfere with the efficiency of the vaccines which being administered.
  2. Not all vaccines are equal. Differences in the technology used to produce vaccines by various companies, as well as route of administration and improper storage can influence efficacy, safety, and duration of immunity.
  3. Primary vaccine failure is another reason for failure to mount a protective immune response after vaccination. These animals are usually immune-incompetent due to genetic mutation.

This real-life episode may help you come to a decision.

The incident was observed with three female kittens who were fully vaccinated against the three core diseases, according to the accepted local protocol. The first vaccine was administered at the age of two months followed by a booster shot 3 weeks later. The kittens did not show any adverse effects from the vaccinations.

At six months of age and approximately three months following the booster shot, one of the litter mates began to showed signs of loss of appetite, fatigue and diarrhoea. Although she was considered to be fully vaccinated, a blood test indicated the possibility of a FPV infection. The kitten was hospitalized for intensive treatment, but sadly, she did not survive.

Two days passed and a second kitten demonstrated similar signs. In this case, following hospitalization, this kitten did survive the disease.

The third kitten was tested using a Parvovirus point-of-care Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR)  kit  (Biogal, PCRun Parvovirus DNA Detection Kit) and was found to be FPV positive. Although it was determined by PCR that this kitten carried the FPV virus, she did not demonstrate any clinical signs.

FPV, (a.k.a., Feline Infectious Enteritis, Feline Parvoviral Enteritis and  Feline Ataxia) is a viral infection of cats. It is caused by the Feline Parvovirus, is highly contagious and can be fatal particularly to kittens aged between 2 and 6 months, as well as pregnant and immune-compromised cats. The name Panleukopenia  is derived from the observation that these patients have low white blood cell count (leukocytosis).

What does this incident teach us?

A certain percentage of kittens will not respond to vaccination by mounting a resilient immunity to FPV. Some will survive and some will not. It would seem rational to test all kittens 2 weeks post last booster to determine if a sufficient protective titre has been generated as a result of the core vaccination.

Biogal’s VacciCheck Titer Test will confirm if the required, immune response has developed or if addition vaccination is required. If the test reveals that there is an insuffient titre, then a plan for isolation of this kitten should be carried out until immunization has been verified. In simple terms, it is a balance between the cost of a titre test and the life of the young kitten.

Dr Revital Netta
Dr. Revital Netta holds a Bachelor of Life Sciences from Ben Gurion University of the Negev and is a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine (DVM) having studied at the Koret School of Veterinary Medicine in the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She is a practicing companion-animal veterinarian. In addition to her veterinary practice, Dr. Netta supervises Biogal’s regulatory affairs and product management. She serves as Biogal’s Medical Advisor and provides clinical support and training to Biogal’s customers.