Vets Issue Animal Vaccine Warning
(BBC News) -- Veterinary surgeons are warning that cat and dog
owners are spending tens of millions of pounds on unnecessary and
sometimes dangerous vaccines. More than 30 vets have signed an open
letter warning many vaccines for pets given in yearly doses last
They have accused the pharmaceutical industry of "fraud by
misrepresentation, fraud by silence and theft by deception".
But drugs companies say they are bound by rules from licensing
Because of a lack of research it can only give a minimum period
immunity - usually 12 months.
The vets are warning the pharmaceutical industry and their own
profession about the issue.
In their letter they say that vaccinations for many conditions
including distemper, cat flu and parva virus, last a lot longer
than a year and sometimes for life.
The letter said: "The present practice of marketing vaccinations
for companion animals may constitute fraud by misrepresentation,
fraud by silence and theft by deception."
BBC correspondent Angus Stickler said that vets send out computer-generated
letters telling people to take their pets in for vaccinations "every
year, year in, year out".
He said: "With £20 to £40 to pay and about 13m
dogs and cats in the country it's an industry worth tens of millions
The letter also talks about an increase in the risk of "adverse
post-vaccination events" including a list of problems such
as auto-immune disorders, transient infections and a risk of cancer
Vaccination manufacturers say that, although they can test animals
for one or two years so they can give a minimum cover or immunity,
it is difficult to perform lifelong tests.
They say that to prove immunity lasts for three or four years,
or for life, would mean keeping and testing a large number of cats
and dogs for years on end.
David Sutton, a spokesman for Intervet, one of the world's largest
veterinary drug manufacturers, told BBC Radio 4's Today programme:
"We base our recommendations on the science and the science
we have tells us that we don't know how long immunity lasts in any
"What we do know is there are some animals that need more
frequent vaccination than others and our vaccine recommendations
have to be based on taking account of those animals."
The vets' warning comes as more than 6,000 vets from all over Europe
gather in Birmingham for the world's largest congress devoted to
domestic pet welfare.
One of the techniques up for discussion at the four-day event is
pheromonotherapy, used to help cats and dogs overcome fears and
The treatment is based on a study of chemicals, called pheromones,
secreted by canines and felines through glands on their body.
These convey messages to members of the same species about ownership
of territory, gender and mating availability.