When I entered veterinary school in 1976, parvovirus disease in dogs didn’t exist.
No dogs were presented to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine (UPSVM) infected with parvovirus until 1978. During my senior year, I observed case after case of canines with life-threatening, bloody diarrhea admitted into ICU to be placed under 24 hour care on supportive IV fluids.
Parvo type 2 virus appeared simultaneously around the world and killed hundreds of millions of dogs in Australia, Europe, Asia and the US. At the time of the outbreak, this brand spanking new disease didn’t seem to be spreading from one dog to another. World health professionals wondered how the disease could be traveling around the world so quickly.They found their answer.
You see, this new disease was being delivered to each dog in his or her yearly booster shot. Batches of vaccines had been shipped to veterinarians all over the world. And no, the vaccine companies were not anticipating this disease and adding the parvovirus just for good measure. In those days the booster shot would have been for distemper, hepatitis, leptospirosis and parainfluenza, with NO parvo; there was no such thing as a DHLPP.
The vaccine stocks had long been contaminated with a cat virus. When you purchase a vaccine for your dog you get the viruses and viral components you asked for. You also get some antigens that you didn’t ask for or ever want. As I understand it, pharmaceutical companies don’t worry too much about cat, cow or sheep viruses contaminating a canine vaccine mix, as dogs don’t usually contract these diseases anyway.
But the sudden and devastating outbreak of parvo was because the feline panleukopenia virus (FPV) that had long been present in dog vaccines mutated to a form that could jump species and infect dogs!
The symptoms of panleukopenia are fever, vomiting, diarrhea – with or without blood – and seizures. It’s a highly contagious and life threatening viral disease in the cat population. It makes sense that the symptoms of feline panleukopenia are very similar to parvovirus symptoms in dogs.
So what did the vaccine companies do? They figured they had to immunize dogs fast, so they began to sell the actual cat vaccine, the feline panleukopenia vaccine, as a vaccination for parvo in dogs. The virus in the cat vaccine, unlike the unwelcome contaminant virus in the dog vaccine, had not yet learned to jump species.
Dogs were being vaccinated en masse with the feline panleukopenia vaccine about eight weeks before my second clinical round in ICU. This time it was different. Instead of parvovirus patients, the ICU was filled with dogs with autoimmune hemolytic anemia. And they all contracted their autoimmune disease about six to eight weeks after their feline vaccination. Coincidence?
Vaccine Associated Sarcoma (VAS)
My alma mater was the first to recognize VAS in cats in 1991. The highly aggressive and deadly brosarcoma tumor was appearing between the shoulder blades, where the rabies vaccine was commonly injected. Veterinary students of ten years ago were taught to change the injection site for the rabies vaccination to a cat’s hind leg because a leg could be easily amputated if a VAS formed.
Dogs can also get VAS at the vaccination site. Today, in a case of the tail wagging the dog, many veterinary schools are advocating that the rabies vaccination be given in the end of the tail. Problem solved? Not really.
Fibrosarcoma is the most common VAS. Other tumor types include rhabdomyosarcoma, myxosarcoma, chondrosarcoma, malignant histiocytoma and undi erentiated sarcoma. These tumors are characterized as highly invasive, rapidly growing and malignant. Often the cancer spreads to the lungs and may spread to the regional lymph nodes as well.
A Misleading Conclusion
Here’s the rub. Epidemiological studies were done to ascertain the agent causing all these cancers. These studies blamed the aluminum adjuvant (a substance that improves the body’s immune response to an antigen) contained in the feline leukemia (FeLV) and rabies vaccinations.
This conclusion astounded me and here’s why. Aluminum adjuvants have been present in many vaccines for many different species (including humans) for decades. VAS had not previously been widely noted in the millions of vaccinations given worldwide. The Veterinary Association of Surgical Oncology states that there are two proposed causes. First, the adjuvant in rabies and FeLV vaccinations causing persistent in ammation; second, a high concentration of deposited vaccine antigens. Most of the articles credit the in ammation the aluminum creates. That’s pretty far-fetched for my taste.
An adjuvant does cause in ammation but that doesn’t mean it would repeatedly cause a very specific type of cancer. I searched for studies in which adjuvant alone was injected between a cat’s shoulder blades resulting in brosarcoma growth at the injection site, but found none.
Viruses Cause Cancer
There’s a possible reason for these VAS cases that pharmaceutical companies may be reluctant to mention. Contamination of vaccinations with a cancer-causing virus could easily cause cancer to form at the injection site. In fact, it’s been known for decades that viruses cause cancer. There are even specific names for these kinds of viruses:
Oncovirus – any of a group of retroviruses variously causing tumors, sarcomas and leukemias. Oncoviruses encourage tumor growth. They extend the life of any cells they infect by donating their enzymes or even their genes. Epstein-Barr Virus (EBV) is a common human oncovirus and is associated with several human neoplasms including lymphomas.
Oncornavirus – any of various RNA viruses that cause tumors in humans and other animals. FeLV is an oncornavirus.
SV-40 In Polio Vaccines
I’m not a virologist so I have to analyze this particular phenomenon using both a historical and clinical context. Historically, has this kind of thing ever happened before? The answer is yes.
In 1959, Bernice Eddy, a scientist at National Institutes of Health (NIH) discovered that polio vaccines contained an infectious agent capable of causing cancer. She was barred from publicly revealing this. In 1960, Drs Ben Sweet and M R Hilleman were credited with discovering a monkey virus (SV-40) in all three types of Albert Sabin’s live oral polio vaccine. SV-40 was causing cancer at the site of injection in experiments with hamsters. The cancer-causing SV-40 virus was also found to survive the formaldehyde used to kill microbes in the injected Salk polio vaccine. Experts determined that between 1954 and 1963, well over 100 million people worldwide were exposed to SV-40 through vaccination.
Over 30 years later, Michele Carbone, a molecular pathologist at Loyola University Medical Center, was able to detect SV-40 in 38 percent of patients with bone cancer and 58 percent of those with a deadly lung cancer called mesothelioma. Carbone’s research shows that SV-40 blocks an important protein that normally protects cells from becoming malignant. SV-40 has been found in brain tumors, bone cancers, lung cancers and leukemia. SV-40 is transmitted through sexual intercourse and from mother to child in the womb.
More Than Coincidence
In my own 30 years of clinical experience I can state that VAS was truly rare 30 years ago, even though the same implicated aluminum adjuvant was present in the vaccines. Suddenly, the surge in the appearance of VAS in cats AFTER a rabies vaccination became so obvious, it HAD to be investigated. Additionally, the rise of the rate of cancer in our dogs has been exponential, with almost one in two dogs now destined to get cancer. It wouldn’t matter, in the case of a cancer-causing organism, if your dog received only one vaccine in his life. An oncovirus is immortal.
Just A Theory?
If there were cancer-causing organisms in our dog’s vaccines (and I am not saying that these are indeed present as I am neither a virologist or cancer researcher), this might be one of the reasons we’re seeing so much cancer nowadays. Not every person who carries SV-40 will get cancer. Not every cat who gets a rabies or FeLV vaccination will get VAS. Cancer-causing organisms just increase the risk.
Personally, the result of the investigation on VAS doesn’t satisfy me. We all know that large pharmaceutical companies commonly fund research despite the conflict of interest. That said, I don’t have the research to state this as a fact, but I can state an idea arrived at after almost 40 years of personal experience. I’ve been seeing an incredible eruption of lymphoma cases in my practice. But maybe it’s just me.
If vaccinating your pet makes you nervous but your not sure how to get around it, we have an easy-to-follow guide that will help you better connect with your vet on this topic. Click here for Dogs Naturally’s Vaccine Guide.