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Bordetella or Kennel Cough is commonly required by boarding kennels and veterinary hospitals. These vaccinations are delivered to a staggeringly large percentage of dogs and the reason is not to protect your dog: the reason is to protect these facilities against liability.
The proprietors who push for these vaccines may be assuming more liability than they can handle and the stakes are very high. The truth is, the vaccines are not only ineffective but they are far from safe. Yet they are routinely given to combat a self limiting disease that amounts to as much danger to your dog as the common cold does to you.
What is interesting is that when you bring your dog to the vet for his Bordetella vaccination, he will have already been exposed to the natural flora: all animals are exposed to both Bordetella and Parainfluenza prior to vaccination. It makes little sense to vaccinate an animal for something he has already been exposed to.
There are at least forty agents capable of initiating Bordetella so vaccination might appear to be prudent if it weren’t for the fact that only two of these agents are contained in the intranasal vaccine. This poor percentage truly makes the Bordetella vaccine a shot in the dark. The lack of efficacy is well summarized by noted immunologist Dr. Ronald Schultz: “Kennel Cough is not a vaccinatable disease”.
Despite the lack of any real effectiveness, the Bordetella vaccine is routinely given and touted as safe, especially in the intranasal form. Make no mistake however: the dangers and misinformation surrounding this seemingly innocuous spray are just as tangible and frightening as any other vaccination. A major problem with the Bordetella vaccine is that it is part of a combination vaccine. Unbeknownst to most pet owners, the Bordetella intranasal spray also contains Parainfluenza (the vaccine for which is not surprisingly, just as ineffective as Bordetella). The problems with the Parainfluenza portion are threefold.
First, there is a real danger of dangerous immunological overload when vaccinations are offered in combination. Second, like Bordetella, most dogs have already been exposed to Parainfluenza, making the necessity of vaccination questionable. Third, the Parainfluenza vaccine is just as ineffective as the Bordetella vaccine because the vaccine does not provide antibody against Parainfluenza where it is most needed: on the mucosal surfaces.
Other dangers associated with the Bordetella vaccine are obviously not far removed from the dangers associated with any other vaccination. Although Bordetella is a bacterial vaccine, we now know that bacterial vaccines present the same threat as Modified Live Vaccines. Modified Live Viruses from human vaccines are now known to become incorporated in the genes of the host and can shuffle, reassert, and reactivate thirty or more years after vaccination.
Bacterial genes are capable of the same activity, lurking in the genetic makeup, waiting to replicate and awaken. The intranasal Bordetella vaccine has been known to activate a previously asymptomatic collapsing trachea and disrupt phagocytic activity which can progress to pneumonia. The toxins from the vaccine will also kill the ciliated lining of the trachea, creating a denuded area susceptible to anything coming down the windpipe. Perhaps collapsing trachea, irritable tracheas and pneumonias are all complications of Bordetella and the Bordetella vaccine.
Vaccination of any sort also elevates histamine which can promote cancer, chronic inflammation and loss of tolerance. In general, all vaccination creates immune dysregulation and is responsible for a vast array of pathology. The Bordetella vaccine can wreak havoc outside the body as well. Bordetella will shed from a vaccinated host for seven weeks while Parainfluenza will shed for a week. This means that every vaccinated dog is a walking dispenser of potentially damaging bacteria.
While the risk to other dogs is obvious, it should be of little concern to healthy dogs because Bordetella is generally a self limiting disease. What you might find surprising is that the shed bacteria is a risk to other animals… and to people. The reason we now have a feline Bordetella (and not surprisingly, a feline Bordetella vaccine), is likely thanks to the widespread use and subsequent shedding of Bordetella from vaccinated dogs to cats sharing the household. If this seems hard to imagine, consider how dogs first fell victim to Canine Influenza.
Canine Influenza was initially documented in racing greyhounds. It is worth noting that many of these dogs shared tracks with race horses: race horses who are routinely vaccinated with Equine Influenza. It is not a stretch to predict Bordetella will infect gerbils, hamsters and rabbits in the near future and it is with certainty that the vaccine manufacturers will be well rewarded with the continued fruits of their canine Bordetella vaccine.
Not surprisingly, humans are not left out of the equation. Ruth Berkelman MD (Former Assistant Surgeon General, US Public Health Service) writes: “The potential for both exposure and for adverse consequences secondary to exposure to veterinary vaccines in humans is growing. Enhanced efforts are needed to recognize and to prevent human illness associated with the use of veterinary vaccines”. Dr. Berkelman noted that pertussis and whooping cough-like complaints in children followed exposure to Bordetella bronchiseptica from the Bordetella vaccine and it is no coincidence that Bordetella bronchiseptica and whooping cough pertussis are very closely related. Interestingly, the rate of whooping cough is highest in highly vaccinated populations.
Immunocompromised humans and animals are at an elevated risk of infection from these canine vaccines. There is a recently reported case of Bordetella bronchiseptica pneumonia in a kidney and pancreas transplant patient who had to board and subsequently vaccinate her dogs at a veterinary clinic while she was hospitalized. Vaccines contain contaminating agents including mycoplasmas which are also very communicable to humans and other mammals.
In the end, vaccination for Bordetella is at best fruitless and at worst, a pathetic fraudulence at the hands of veterinarians and vaccine manufacturers. It is up to you whether or not your dog receives this vaccination and that is not overstating the obvious. Sadly, most pet owners are aware of this but choose vaccination because they feel they are at the mercy of boarding kennels, training schools and veterinarians.
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Patricia Monahan Jordan is a graduate of the North Carolina College of Veterinary Medicine. She practiced conventional veterinary medicine for twenty years and founded six different veterinary facilities in North Carolina. Dr. Jordan has traced the paths of immunopathology to vaccine administration and uncovered the cycle of disease and the endless cycle of disease management that results from vaccine administration.