Well.....it was only a matter of time before this hot button topic hit the pet world. The measles outbreak in the U.S. has topped 100 cases so far this year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with a large number of those cases suspected to stem from a single visitor to the Disney theme park in California. Many physicians have pinned the larger blame on lower immunization rates as a result of an anti-vaccination movement. But animal doctors, who say the rejection of vaccines is spreading to the veterinary world, are less worried about what happened in a certain Mouse's house than about the dogs and cats they see every day.
The vast majority of puppies taken to the vet in the U.S. receive a series of shots, including a vaccine against a highly contagious viral illness known as "canine distemper," which causes potentially fatal respiratory and gastrointestinal distress in dogs. Before scientists developed a vaccine against canine distemper in 1929, the virus claimed the lives of many dogs — foxhounds seem particularly vulnerable to it — and was also a “menace at the new dog shows which became popular from the mid-nineteenth century,” according to historians. Yet, even though there is a vaccine, distemper is far from a thing of the past. Last year, an outbreak among dogs in Texas made news, with veterinarians there noting that what was once a rare illness has surged in numbers this year.
It’s not yet clear whether vaccine hesitations among pet owners have influenced patterns of diseases such as parvovirus and distemper. However, health officials have suggested that increased outbreaks of illnesses such as measles in people are related to unfounded fears about certain human vaccines.