On Parvo, Patents, and Press Releases

A self serving press release from Oklahoma State University has the dogblogosphere all aflutter at the “new” killer strain of Parvo.

(the press release has been yanked from the OSU site, but Christie over at PetConnection was kind enough to repost it)

Turns out that the CPV 2c strain is nothing new, your dogs are as safe as they ever were, and the vague and misleading language of the press release is to blame for the hysteria.

The press release has one real purpose, to brag about the filing of a patent on the “characteristics” of CPV 2c. Patents on such things are used by universities to make money off of any drugs or products that are developed by themselves or others. It’s part of an intellectual property land grab where you file patents on anything that you think will be more valuable than the cost of the patent application and then just hope that someone else will develop a product that uses the information you have a patent on. It doesn’t matter if they did their own research or even knew about your patent, if they get a home run product and it’s related, then you sue them for big pieces of their profits.

The press release was written to make it sound like this new strain was worse than it is. It mentioned a dead adult dog and hundreds of dead puppies in a single night. This is nothing but an attempt to fan the flames and make their patent seem more valuable. There is no evidence to suggest that the current vaccines are ineffective, there is no evidence to suggest that this strain is any more notable than other strains, and no evidence to suggest that more knowledge of this strain’s characteristics will make your dog any safer or lead to any new products.

Christie Keith sums up the Parvo situation pretty well over on PetConnection:

Adult dogs have always been able to get canine parvovirus. It’s simply more common in puppies, because there are difficulties in successfully immunizing young puppies against this disease — not just the “new” strain, but all known strains. But most adults are vaccinated for parvo, and since the vaccine is extremely effective, even those who don’t continue getting so-called “booster shots” remain immune for many years, most likely their lifetimes.

The problem of a very, very small number of dogs who cannot be successfully vaccinated for parvo is not new, and has been established long prior to this in the veterinary literature.

So if you weren’t worried about your dog’s parvo protection before, this press release offers you no new reason to change your level of concern.

In all honesty, I’m not surprised the loaded language in the OSU press release scared people, with all the stuff about 600 puppies dying in one night and mentions of “vaccine failure” and dead adult dogs. And yet… if you really look at the various studies, what you see are the usual kinds of vaccine failure from maternal antibody interference. You see dogs who are not vaccinated at all. You see dogs who got sick so soon after being vaccinated that they were clearly incubating the disease already.

The researchers themselves say this — say there’s no evidence this strain has evolved out of the coverage from existing vaccines. The very fact that this strain is so widespread, and is being found all over the country, tells us this is just another strain of CPV that’s out there, of interest to virologists, yes, but its practical importance? Other than the fact that one of the common lab tests for parvo can miss it, not much.

Nothing to see here, folks, nothing to see here. Move along, move along.

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About Christopher

Christopher Landauer is a fifth generation Colorado native and second generation Border Collie enthusiast. Border Collies have been the Landauer family dogs since the 1960s and Christopher got his first one as a toddler. He began his own modest breeding program with the purchase of Dublin and Celeste in 2006 and currently shares his home with their children Mercury and Gemma as well. His interest in genetics began in AP Chemistry and AP Biology and was honed at Stanford University.