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West Nile Vaccine- Adverse Reaction

Horse Owner Speaks Out

Before I speak, let me preface this article to make it clearly understood, this information is not a blame or vendetta towards anything or anyone. It also needs to be unmistakably understood that I am not for or against vaccinating horses.

My sole intent and/or purpose is to educate and inform the horse owner regarding concerns of their horse(s) health in an effort to assist and/or prevent the tragic misfortune that happened to our gelding, Dartanian. He was one of the principal characters in the book, "The Spiritual Life of Horses." His love, integrity, courage, loyalty and quite often humor, will live on in our hearts through his inspiration and valor.

In mid August we were suggested to vaccinate against West Nile Virus, I simply was not well-educated on the vaccine nor the virus or knew the right questions to ask at the time. With the first shot, three of our horses reacted. Our pregnant mare, our gelding and Dr. Donald Warren's stallion, a boarder, all had the same re-action, their front legs swelled. Within 2 days, our gelding Dartanian foundered, shortly there after he died!

These are adverse reactions to a vaccine. The reactions our horses experienced are not soley limited to what we saw. Other adverse reactions stated by Fort Dodge's safety study are: systemic reactions, colic, diarrhea, fever, swellings.

The West Nile Vaccine is new. According to Dr. Charles L. McDaniel from USDA, "this is what is called a conditional vaccine. New vaccines such as this, are granted a one year "conditional" trial period. If safety and efficacy are established, a renewal license for a second year may be granted." The West Nile Vaccine license has been renewed for another year. He also stated "when a new vaccine is released it is sold and provided only through veterinarians for one reason, because the manufacturer needs to monitor the field response." (**more information from Dr. Charles McDaniel regarding conditional licensing)

If any reaction occurs then it is the responsibility of the practicing veterinarian to record it and report it to the manufacturer immediately in case there is a problem with that serial batch of vaccine.

In the case of the West Nile Vaccine, the manufacturer is Fort Dodge. I spoke with Dr. Tuttle at Fort Dodge regarding our situation and also explained what I was dealing with afterward. Dr. Tuttle, listened intently to what I described, documented my report and said to me, "Lynette, please accept my greatest apologies for what you have gone through, I am a practicing veterinarian, this information is not falling on deaf ears, I will investigate this immediately."

He also stated, "we urge and encourage people to contact us immediately and report adverse reactions to our vaccines. We subsequently report it to the USDA and investigate the serial numbers of the batches that were being used to see if the batch has been contaminated. If people don't report problems then we don't know."

Dr. Tuttle also stated to me, " if there is the slightest indication that the vaccine caused a problem then it needs to be reported to us without delay so that we can investigate and research that batch."

If your horse(s) have had a reaction to this vaccine, Dr. Charlie McDaniel, USDA and Dr. Tuttle from Fort Dodge are asking you to contact them and report it. The following is their contact information:

Dr. Charlie McDaniel, USDA,
Email: charles.1.mcdaniel@aphis.usda.gov
Tel# 1-515-232-5785 ext. 146

Also www.usp.org/vprp.htm this is a website where you document what happened. Once the information is received it is therefore reported to the manufacturer. The manufacturer then investigates and researches the problem. If a bad batch of vaccine has made it's way to the public it is then recalled. This is my understanding of recourse from both Dr. McDaniel and Dr. Tuttle.

Dr. Tuttle, Fort Dodge,
Email: info@equinewestnile.com Attn: West Nile Product Manager
Tel# 1-800-533-8536
Mailing address:
Fort Dodge Animal Health
West Nile Vaccine Product Manager
P.O.Box 25945
Overland Park, KS 66225-5945

In the future make sure when your horse(s) are being administered a vaccine that you get the serial number and/or the batch number from your veterinarian and that it is logged on your horse(s) record in case you need immediate recourse.

Also, under no circumstances administer a vaccine to any horse whom is under any stress or has an impaired immune system, colic, laminitis, etc….
I believe Fort Dodge's intent was not to create fear and chaos within the horse world nor price gouge the horse owner with something new to make a profit at the horse owner and horse's expense. I also believe their intent was to help alleviate a potential problem. In doing so they need your assistance, the horse owner, to provide them with any adverse reaction(s) to their product so they can correct it and make the difference they initially set out to do.
For those of you concerned and would like to use alternative medicines too assist in healing and warding off potential problems. The following information is provided:

At a recent workshop in New Orleans this past August with Kerry Bone, BSc Dip Phyto, Australia's leading herbalist, the topic of West Nile Virus came up. Mr. Bone stated that Australia has a similar virus, originating in birds and transmitted by mosquitoes. The protocol that he has found most effective in combating this virus is using Medi Herb St. John's Wort and Medi Herb Echinacea Premium.

To quote from a 1995 issue of the Modern Phytotherapist on St. John's Wort: "St. John's Wort (Hypericum perforatum) has been proposed as an antiviral agent against enveloped viruses. It has been suggested that preparations standardized to a high level of total hypericin are necessary for significant antiviral activity." The West Nile Virus is an enveloped virus.

In September of this year, at the National Conference on Nutritional and Herbal Applications in Wisconsin, my husband had an occasion to speak with Dr. Martens from South Dakota. She shared her results of treating horses with full blown reactions to the West Nile Virus having complete recovery. Although from opposite ends of the world, working independently, the same conclusions were made. Both used Medi Herb St. John's Wort in their protocol and both worked to boost the immune system.

To locate a doctor in your area using Medi Herb and Standard Process products, please call 1-501-745-6696, or send a SASE to Therapeutic Nutritional Services, Inc., P.O. Box 1579, Clinton, AR 72031 and write West Nile Virus Information.

In closing, I would like to thank you, the reader, for your time and for listening. We wish you and yours the best of health and happiness. May you and your loved ones never be exposed to or experience what we did!

And to Dartanian, the noblest of noble, the truest of knights, rest in peace beloved friend.

With much love and many, many blessings

Lynette DesMarais

Copyright 2002

**From Dr. Charles McDaniel, USDA

A conditional license has already proven in the firm's testing that each serial of product meet the standards for inactivation, safety and purity testing before a license is issued. What this means is that :

1. Inactivation testing has shown that the organism (in this case-West Nile Virus) has been killed so that there is no live organism to cause the actual disease you are trying to prevent.

2. Safety testing has been performed in a statisically large enough population of animals to show that the vaccine is reasonably safe to administer to the target animal. In actual field use involving thousands of doses of vaccine, many times reactions not observed or reported in initial testing may manifest. Animals having pre-exsisting conditions,different genetics, different management styles, and the larger numbers involved may be a few of the reasons that these newer reactions are seen.

3. Purity testing is performed on each serial of vaccine before it is released to demonstrate that it is not contaminated with extraneous organisms (not supposed to be there).

When a conditional license is issued, it is marketed and provided only through veterianrians so that the manufacturer is able to monitor the field response, especially the adverse events or reactions.

Don't administer a vaccine to an animal that has a previous reaction to vaccination without discussing this with your veterinarian."


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Updated: October 2005.