myth

AN­I­MAL MYTHBUSTING! Dr. Ma­ca­pa­gal takes on the myths, one by one

Animal Scene - - VET VISIT - ABOUT THE AU­THOR:AU­THOR Eem­manuell DD. Mmaca­pa­gal,l DD.VV.MM. iis ththe fformer PAHA pres­i­den­tidt (2000-2001) who also served as the chair­man of the Coun­cil on Ethics for the PVMA as its and Speaker Pro Tem­pore.

THEY SAY: Ra­bies is more vir­u­lent when it is con­tracted from a bite, scratch, or lick from a puppy, and dogs are the ma­jor trans­mit­ters of ra­bies.

As a vet­eri­nar­ian who hears this from long-time clients as well as those who are panic-stricken first-timers, it never fails to make me roll my eyes in amaze­ment. Let me an­swer it this way: the dog is not a reser­voir, species-adapted, or “true car­rier” of the ra­bies virus.

To put it sim­ply, dogs are not born with ra­bies in­cu­bat­ing (mul­ti­ply­ing) in its cen­tral ner­vous sys­tem (CNS). This is the rea­son why it is 100% pre­ventable through vac­ci­na­tion. For why should I vac­ci­nate an al­ready in­fected or rabid dog? There­fore, post-ex­po­sure pro­phy­laxis (PEP) is nei­ther manda­tory nor oblig­a­tory if the dog that licked you was vac­ci­nated with records to prove it and these are signed by a board-cer­ti­fied vet­eri­nar­ian. Oth­er­wise, avail your­self of PEP if you can af­ford it.

THEY SAY: PEP is en­tirely harm­less and can be done even if a pre­vi­ous PEP was less than a year ago.

I dis­agree. Vac­ci­na­tions are war­ranted strictly when an ex­po­sure has been de­ter­mined by pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties.

At this point, I would like to make it clear that in my 20 years of clin­i­cal ex­pe­ri­ence in com­pan­ion an­i­mal medicine, I was never con­sulted by a physi­cian to ver­ify records of a par­tic­u­lar dog, a client of mine, re­gard­ing the truth­ful­ness as well as cor­rect­ness of our records re­gard­ing its vac­cine en­tries, date, man­u­fac­turer, and se­rial num­ber, as well as the expiry dates of said vac­cines. This is a mat­ter I find very un­eth­i­cal, dis­taste­ful, and not ob­jec­tive. If vac­cine as­so­ci­ated sar­co­mas (can­cers in the con­nec­tive tis­sues) hap­pen in a dog or cat, how much more in an im­mune-com­pro­mised hu­man be­ing get­ting in­dis­crim­i­nate vac­ci­na­tions? (Ed­i­tor’s note: The au­thor is re­fer­ring to PEPS for those who were bit­ten, scratched, or licked by vac­cine-com­pli­ant dogs and does not ap­ply to the same from strays or those without ver­i­fi­able vac­ci­na­tion records.)

THEY SAY: Herbal and folk medicine rec­om­mend “sun­gay ng usa” (deer horns) against ra­bies.

Once again, the ra­bies virus is not neu­tral­ized or ren­dered in­ac­ti­vate by these use­less “cures,” I’m sad to say. The ra­bies virus, if ex­posed to sun­light, soap, and de­ter­gent, is eas­ily de­ac­ti­vated. You don’t have to go Quiapo to buy the items listed above. It’s a waste of time and pre­cious money to buy folk cures; worse, those things do not work. Also, ra­bies is strictly in vivo (in­side a liv­ing or­gan­ism) for the virus to be prop­a­gated or mul­ti­plied, and trans­mit­ted. This virus can­not sur­vive nor mul­ti­ply out­side of a sus­cep­ti­ble host.

THEY SAY: Ra­bies is ac­quired by a dog through eat­ing garbage.

No, def­i­nitely not. Ra­bies is al­most al­ways con­tracted from the bite of a rabid mam­mal. The trans­mis­sion is very clear since this disease is an­cient and has been stud­ied thor­oughly by vet­eri­nar­i­ans. It is an an­thro­po­zoono­sis or a disease of an­i­mals trans­mis­si­ble to hu­mans.

THEY SAY: Ra­bies is not a med­i­cal emer­gency but an ur­gency.

The lit­er­a­ture on this varies but from the vet­eri­nar­ian’s as well as the physi­cian’s stand­point, it seems fool­ish to point out the ob­vi­ous: ra­bies does not de­velop overnight in a dog or in a cat; hence the term “in­cu­ba­tion pe­riod.” Again, let me chal­lenge the naysay­ers to post a peer-re­viewed jour­nal ar­ti­cle in­tended to clar­ify or re­fute the in­ten­tions of a PEP be­sides the usual “psy­cho­log­i­cal peace of mind” when one is bit­ten, scratched, or licked by a puppy, or a vac­ci­na­tion-com­pli­ant (on an an­nual ba­sis) dog.

CLAR­I­FI­CA­TION: Why is the ra­bies vac­cine ad­min­is­tered in the third month of a puppy’s life?

It is for the sim­ple rea­son that at this point, dogs be­gin to so­cial­ize with other dogs, there­fore in­creas­ing the chances of ex­po­sure to this 100% fa­tal disease.

CLAR­I­FI­CA­TION: Who de­fines ex­po­sure?

In the United States of Amer­ica, col­lab­o­ra­tion is stressed. In­sti­tu­tions like the CDC, the Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of State Pub­lic Health Vet­eri­nar­i­ans (NASPHV), and WHO help de­fine what ex­po­sure means. By def­i­ni­tion, we vet­eri­nar­i­ans are also pub­lic health au­thor­i­ties due to the fact that we prac­tice medicine on an­i­mals.

If you were bit­ten by a cat, dog, or any warm-blooded an­i­mal that ap­peared healthy at the time you were bit­ten, it can be con­fined by its owner for 10 days and ob­served. No anti-ra­bies pro­phy­laxis is needed. There is no need to panic, es­pe­cially when the dog stays in­doors and has lit­tle or no con­tact at all with any other dog, cat, or any other mam­mal, es­pe­cially if it is a vac­cine-com­pli­ant dog. Al­ways re­mem­ber that ra­bies kills the dog or cat sus­pected to have the disease first, and not you.

Clin­i­cal Pre­sen­ta­tion (what the signs of the disease look like: disease forms/sub­types, his­tory, chief com­plaint in the an­i­mal)

1. Pro­dro­mal form – the change in be­hav­ior lasts 2 to 3 days; it dis­plays anx­i­ety, a pref­er­ence for soli­tude, and ap­pre­hen­sion or fear

2. Par­a­lytic or dumb form – de­scribes the ma­jor­ity of ca­nine cases and a mi­nor­ity of fe­line cases; lasts 1-7 days

3. Fu­ri­ous form – de­scribes the ma­jor­ity fe­line cases and a mi­nor­ity of ca­nine cases; is seen as ag­gres­sion, bit­ing, changed voice, paral­y­sis, seizures, and loss of bal­ance; may be seen in all three forms.

These signs last two to four days from on­set of clear signs to death.

VERY IM­POR­TANT: in the quar­an­tine or con­fine­ment area

Clin­i­cal signs ap­pear­ing in the an­i­mal within one week of the ap­pear­ance of the bite wound are ex­tremely un­likely to be re­lated to ra­bies in­fec­tion via the said wound.

What about other small mam­mals?

Con­sult pub­lic health of­fi­cials. Bites of squir­rels, ham­sters, guinea pigs, ger­bils, chip­munks, rats, mice, other small ro­dents, rab­bits, and hares al­most never re­quire ra­bies PEP.

• Cen­ters for Disease Con­trol and Preven­tion (http:www.cdc.gov/nci­dod/ dvrd/ra­bies/)

• Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion of State Pub­lic Health Vet­eri­nar­i­ans. Com­pen­dium of An­i­mal Ra­bies Preven­tion and Con­trol

• Greene CE, Dreesen DW. Ra­bies. In: Greence, ED In­fec­tious dis­eases of the dog and cat, 2nd ed. Philadel­phia: Saun­ders 1998: 114-126.

• Cote, Eti­enne. Ra­bies. Clin­i­cal Vet­eri­nary Ad­vi­sor: dogs and Cats. Mosby, Inc., an af­fil­i­ate of El­se­vier Inc. © 2007: 939

• Til­ley, LP, Smith Fran­cis W.K., Jr. Ra­bies. The 5-Minute Vet­eri­nary Con­sult, 3rd Edi­tion., Lip­pin­cott Wil­liams & Wilkins ©2004:1112-1113.

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