DEAR READERS: I am a regular reader of (and occasional contributor to) Innovative Veterinary Care, the peer-reviewed journal from Redstone Media Group, as well as the Journal of the American Holistic Veterinary Medical Association. As such, I am encouraged to read about the increasing use of botanicals -- herbs, and tinctures and essential oils of the same -- to treat a variety of conditions in companion animals and farmed animals. Many are more effective, less costly and have fewer, if any, harmful side effects than many prescribed, synthetic drugs.
Sayer Ji with Green Med Info recently posted an article entitled, “1899 Merck Manual Shows Natural and Food-Based Medicine Once Reigned Supreme.” (Visit greenmedinfo.com for more details and a link to the first edition of the Merck medical manual, which Ji references.)
He writes: “Perhaps what is the most striking thing about the first 1899 edition of the Merck Manual is that many of the remedies (for various human conditions) listed are entirely natural. It would not be until 1906 that Congress, with the strong support of President Theodore Roosevelt, would pass the Pure Food and Drug Act, which would usher in the era of pharmaceutical medicine, largely consisting of patented, synthetically produced medications. In 1899, the standard of care included toxic compounds like arsenic and mercury, as well as completely natural ones derived from common plants and foods, but few, if any, patented drugs.”
It is a matter of public record that the pharmaceutical industry periodically seeks to have all botanicals removed from over-the-counter sales, taken off the shelves and restricted to prescription-only medications. However, I do not advise people to blindly try any “natural” remedies on their animal companions, but rather, find a veterinarian who uses them along with conventional drugs for animal health issues. Visit ahvma.org for a list of such practitioners in your area.
DEAR DR. FOX: I have heard that it is not necessary to administer the DHLPP vaccine to dogs older than 10 years; only the rabies shot is necessary. Your thoughts on this? -- S.M., Medford, Oregon
DEAR S.M.: You are partially correct, provided that the dog has had prior vaccinations, which can give anywhere from five-year to lifelong immunity for most dogs, but not all.
Depending on risk of exposure to other dogs and the health of other dogs in the community, it is safe, in my opinion, to give dogs no more such “core” vaccinations after 2 years of age -- but again, with the proviso that blood titer tests are taken at every annual wellness examination to evaluate the dog’s immune status.
No, I am not opposed to vaccinations, and my concerns about current vaccine marketing practices and risks does not make me an anti-vaccine advocate. Neither are Robert F. Kennedy Jr. with his Children’s Health website, or celebrity supporter Jessica Biel. They recently voiced concerns to the California Legislature about proposed new vaccination regulations. The precautionary principle should not be overridden by fear and the power of the pharmaceutical industry.
As a veterinary bioethicist, I was in shock to read that Arthur J. Caplan, a Ph.D. bioethicist at the NYU School of Medicine, said, in response to the efforts of Kennedy and Biel: ”Defenders of vaccination are much more engaged. They’re saying, ‘We’re not going to put up with anti-vaxxers and celebrities maneuvering around the edges of the debate.’” He also alluded to “celebrity claptrap and nonsense” and “anti-vaccine malarkey.” It seems that such defamatory and demeaning language has gone from the political arena to the academic, where sound science and ethics are under siege. I take the middle of the road on this issue, and that makes me radical to both sides!
SALMONELLA INFECTIONS TOTAL 279 IN OUTBREAK LINKED TO BACKYARD BIRDS
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have fielded 279 reports of salmonella infections linked to backyard chickens in recent months, and the number of states involved has grown to 41.
Children under age 5 account for about one-third of the cases. Many of the reports involve chicks and ducklings purchased online, at hatcheries and from agricultural stores. (United Press International, 6/14)
I advise people considering setting up such backyard laying-hen operations not to do so in high-population urban and suburban communities for public health reasons.
(Send all mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or to Dr. Michael Fox in care of Andrews McMeel Syndication, 1130 Walnut St., Kansas City, MO 64106. The volume of mail received prohibits personal replies, but questions and comments of general interest will be discussed in future columns.
Visit Dr. Fox’s website at DrFoxOneHealth.com.)