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Thread: Questions for those that titer...

  1. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tania View Post
    I will be titering when they both go for their mri scans so they wont be stressed.
    While they are under?- thats a good idea but Ruby wont be getting scanned again any time soon x

    Karen

  2. #12
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    See the link I posted under "annual vaccinations again" thread. There is new thinking about titers and the current consensus of veterinarians doing vaccination research is that titers do not predict immunity versus lack of immunity. Read about memory cells versus antibodies.

    Pat
    Pat B
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  3. #13
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    Thank you Pat.

    I would not rely on titering, personally. I would use the 3 years schedule and then do final vax at around age 7.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
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    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

  4. #14
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    Cut and pasted sections for those who did not click on that great link (that I've also cited on other message boards...) Hate to be so anal, but this is important stuff!

    How do you bold sentences? I put **************at the end of particularly important info.
    -----------------

    Titers and Canine Vaccination Decisions
    By Christie Keith

    It always happens. As soon as dog owners hear that annual re-vaccination for dogs might not be necessary, they also hear about something called a titer test. “That’s great,” they say to themselves. “A test I can run every year to see if my dog’s immunity has gotten low and needs boosting!” It seems like the perfect solution to worries about over-vaccination.

    However appealing that idea might be, titer tests can’t be used in this way. That’s because your dog’s immune system is not a gas tank, vaccines are not gas pumps, and titer tests are not gas gauges. ***********************************

    What Is a Titer Test?

    A "titer" is a measurement of how much antibody to a certain virus (or other antigen) is circulating in the blood at that moment. Titers are usually expressed in a ratio, which is how many times they could dilute the blood before they couldn't find antibodies anymore. If the lab was able to dilute it two times, and then didn't find any more antibodies, that would be expressed as a titer of 1:2. If they could dilute it a thousand times before they couldn't find any antibodies, that would be a titer of 1:1000.

    It would be wonderful to be able to say that once this ratio dips below a certain level, it’s time to give another vaccination to “boost” immunity. But that reflects an incorrect understanding of the immune response. Vaccines don’t inject immunity into a dog. Instead, they stimulate the immune system to form two kinds of cells, antibodies that fight the current infection, and memory cells that remain behind after the infection has been eradicated, to pump out more antibodies if the same virus is encountered in the future.*****************************

    Memory cells persist for 20 years or more, and are not increased when the animal is re-vaccinated or re-exposed to the disease. The detection of antibodies in the bloodstream, which is what a titer test does, tells us that process took place and that memory cells are present, but the absence of antibodies does not mean there are no memory cells or that the dog is not immune. Veterinary immunologist Ian Tizard writes, "You can have a negative titer and if the pet is exposed, memory cells can respond within hours to regenerate enough antibodies for protective immunity." (Tizard, Ian R., Veterinary Immunology: An Introduction, 6th Ed, Saunders 2000.)************

    Should You Test? *************************

    So, should you test your dog’s titers? Probably not. Nearly all previously vaccinated adult dogs are immune to parvovirus and distemper, and the titer test isn’t going to give you any useful information. You cannot make an immune dog “more immune” to a virus with additional vaccination, as the previous immunity will wipe out the virus in the vaccine. There will be no increase in immunity and no benefit to the dog. (Schultz, Ronald D., "Current and future canine and feline vaccination programs", Veterinary Medicine, March 1998.) If a titer test will give you peace of mind, or help you make a vaccination decision about a puppy or a dog of unknown vaccine history, then it’s worth considering. But for most owners of well-vaccinated adult dogs, neither re-vaccination nor titer testing for parvovirus and distemper are necessary. ***************************

    --------------

    Many people who are trying to reduce vaccination are interested in using "titers" as a test to measure whether or not their dog is still immune to a disease. They often speak of titers as showing "high" or "low" immunity, or of "having to" re-vaccinate when a titer is low. While there is not a tremendous amount of research on titers in dogs, I think it's fair to say there is quite a bit of misunderstanding on the part of pet owners, and even many veterinarians, as to what a titer test does or does not tell us.********************

    A "titer" is a measurement of how much antibody to a certain virus (or other antigen) is circulating in the blood at that moment. Titers are usually expressed in a ratio, which is how many times they could dilute the blood until they couldn't find antibodies anymore. So let's say they could dilute it two times only and then they didn't find anymore, that would be a titer of 1:2. If they could dilute it a thousand times before they couldn't find any antibody, then that would be a titer of 1:1000.

    A titer test does not and cannot measure immunity, because immunity to specific viruses is reliant not on antibodies, but on memory cells, which we have no way to measure. Memory cells are what prompt the immune system to create antibodies and dispatch them to an infection caused by the virus it "remembers." Memory cells don't need "reminders" in the form of re-vaccination to keep producing antibodies. (Science, 1999; "Immune system's memory does not need reminders.") If the animal recently encountered the virus, their level of antibody might be quite high, but that doesn't mean they are more immune than an animal with a lower titer.

    Dr. Donald Hamilton, a holistic veterinarian and author of Homeopathic Care for Cats and Dogs: Small Doses for Small Animals, compares antibodies to fire engines. Just because the fire engines aren't racing all over town all the time, and the fire fighters are back in the firehouse, sleeping, eating or playing cards, doesn't mean they aren't ready to jump in their trucks and head to the fire when the alarm sounds.

    So what does a low or zero titer tell you? Nothing much. A high titer is strongly correlated with either recent infection or good immunity, but the opposite isn't true. You can use a titer test about two weeks after vaccination to determine if the vaccination was effective in stimulating an immune response (in other words, if the animal was successfully immunized from the vaccine), but testing that same animal's titer years down the road doesn't really tell you anything new.

    The only other uses for titer tests in my opinion are to check immunization status on dogs with an unknown history, to provide documentation for legal purposes such as travel, or licensing in areas that accept rabies titers in lieu of rabies vaccination, to satisfy curiosity, or to provide peace of mind for pet owners. However, for every person who has his or her mind relieved by finding his or her dog "has a titer" to a disease they were worried about, there is someone else who now thinks his or her dog or cat is "unprotected" against a disease to which they are most likely really immune.

    -------------------

    One reason TO titer would be if your county or dog group or kennel accepted titers in lieu of vacc records, and they don't know that titers are worthless in determining immunity.

    I stopped annual vaccs in about 1997, and I ran yearly titers for a couple of years until I realized that I was wasting my money that could be better spent on other things such as annual wellness blood chemistry profiles, etc.

    Karlin - you have a very reasonable plan of action. Cathy T's approach is also valid.

    Pat
    Pat B
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  5. #15
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    And one more thing - I would be remiss not to comment - Waldor, you mentioned your "puppy" - if you have a puppy less than one year old who has only his first vaccs at 8, 12, 14 weeks, then you MUST get a booster at one year old. You can't get a titer in lieu of a booster vacc at one year for rabies, parvo or distemper. Look at that critteradvocacy link in the other current vaccination thread and read the current recommendations (endorsed by all vet schools, Dr. Dodds, Dr. Schultz, etc). Schultz and others now believe that a booster at one year should provide immunity for the lifetime of the dog, but you must get that one year "adult" booster. Someone in the other thread also mentioned about having puppy vaccs only and not boostering at one year of age.

    The "compromise" reached by the vet schools, vets, etc. is the three year protocol. The researchers believe that the one year booster provides immunity for 7 to 15 years, thus the Rabies Challenge Fund which is working to increase rabies law requirements from 3 years to 5 years and then to 7 years, etc. in the United States.

    Pat
    Pat B
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  6. #16
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    I definitely plan to do the 1-yr boosters when they come due. I won't take any chances, and she will be double the size and weight from her last puppy shot.

    I was talking with a registered nurse at the local hospital a few weeks ago, and she told me they get titered, themselves. The only exception was the annual flu shot. That was mandatory unless they chose to wear a surgical mask *at all times* while on duty in the hospital.

  7. #17
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    Pasting again the relevant data:

    "A titer test does not and cannot measure immunity, because immunity to specific viruses is reliant not on antibodies, but on memory cells, which we have no way to measure. Memory cells are what prompt the immune system to create antibodies and dispatch them to an infection caused by the virus it "remembers." Memory cells don't need "reminders" in the form of re-vaccination to keep producing antibodies. (Science, 1999; "Immune system's memory does not need reminders.") If the animal recently encountered the virus, their level of antibody might be quite high, but that doesn't mean they are more immune than an animal with a lower titer.

    So what does a low or zero titer tell you? Nothing much. A high titer is strongly correlated with either recent infection or good immunity, but the opposite isn't true. You can use a titer test about two weeks after vaccination to determine if the vaccination was effective in stimulating an immune response (in other words, if the animal was successfully immunized from the vaccine), but testing that same animal's titer years down the road doesn't really tell you anything new.

    The only other uses for titer tests in my opinion are ....... to provide documentation for legal purposes such as travel, or licensing in areas that accept rabies titers in lieu of rabies vaccination, to satisfy curiosity, or to provide peace of mind for pet owners. However, for every person who has his or her mind relieved by finding his or her dog "has a titer" to a disease they were worried about, there is someone else who now thinks his or her dog or cat is "unprotected" against a disease to which they are most likely really immune."
    ------------------------------
    My comments: A high titer does indicate that a dog or person has adequate antibodies and thus good immunity, so they can be "exempt" from revaccination and it can be used for "legal purposes" for example - for hospital personnel. One of my vets said she had to have a rabies titer run for herself - it's for legal protection. Titers are all that we have since we can't measure memory cells. THE PROBLEM IS THAT A LOW OR ZERO TITER DOES NOT MEAN THAT THERE IS NO IMMUNITY. So there is no point for most of us to run titers unless they give you some legal protection by exempting you from rabies vacc, allowing you to board your dog, etc. or just giving you peace of mind if that is something that you "need." It's a waste of time and money and a needle stick for the dog otherwise because of these "false negatives."

    Titers are not understood by most lay people and many professional people. That's why tick titers are so darn ambiguous and difficult to interpret.

    Pat
    Pat B
    Atlanta, GA

  8. #18
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    My husband got titered last summer when he was volunteering at the hospital. That makes sense Pat-- If you have a high titer you have coverage-- low number doesn't necessarily correlate to non coverage.
    I've never run titers- I follow the three year until they are 7 and then no more except rabies. We have had 30 some cases of rabies this year in our county.

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