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Research Shows Pets May Be Vaccinated Less Often
(The following research article is from the 2003-2004 Research & Technology Transfer calendar. Copies of the full-color, 18-month calendars - including CDs of articles on the University's top researchers - are available by contacting Arun Pradhan at the Colorado State University Research Foundation at 970-482-2916 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
As many pets as possible should be vaccinated, particularly during the period that they are most susceptible to severe illness - i.e., as puppies and kittens. However, advances have been made that show that most cats and dogs may be vaccinated less often and still maintain good health, thanks to research by Colorado State's Dr. Michael Lappin, professor, clinician and researcher with the James L. Voss Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Based on serological studies, about 70 percent of cats are getting annual
vaccines they don't need - and the vaccinations have been shown to be
potentially harmful to a very few animals.
"Although we're concentrating now on developing assays for cats, dog owners will be able to benefit from similar tests in the future," Dr. Lappin adds. He credits Wayne Jensen, collaborator at Heska, and David Rosen, formerly of Heska, for contributing their research on prediction of resistance for the assays.
Although the research into developing assays is crucial, that work actually comprises only about 25 percent of Dr. Lappin's time. The remainder of his time is devoted to diseases that cats could share with their owners, such as Giardia and Cryptosporidium, and treatment of Haemobartonella, which is a blood-borne disease in cats. In addition to Heska, Dr. Lappin has been engaged in cooperative research with partners including Bayer Animal Health, Pharmacia Corp., Schering-Plough Corp., and Fort Dodge Animal Health and has patents pending for new diagnostic tests related to maintenance of feline health.
"I'm interested in the health of cats and of people who have cats, especially those cat owners who are HIV positive or living with cancer," Dr. Lappin says. "In my research, I've examined ways of providing the safest possible environment for cats and for people. In most situations, the health risks associated with cat ownership can be minimized, so the cat owner should not need to surrender their pets - quite the contrary, the benefits of cat ownership outweigh the risks in most situations.
"There are so many health-related safety issues facing our companion animals and so much research to be done that can benefit people and animals."
Dr. Lappin received his D.V.M. from Oklahoma State University in 1981 and a doctorate in parasitology from the University of Georgia in 1988. Prior to his tenure at Colorado State, he was assistant research biologist at the Department of Small-Animal Medicine at the University of Georgia and a member of the Alder Veterinary Group in Sepulveda, Calif.