Researchers Ask: Do Vaccines Cause, Lead to Autoimmune Disease?

Veterinarians stopped short of claiming that feline vaccines cause autoimmune disease at an internal specialty conference last month, but they shared data that reveals a link between feline vaccines and the creation of autoantibodies associated with autoimmune diseases in humans.

Michael Lappin, DVM, PhD, and Jacqueline Whittemore, DVM, PhD, presented research from Colorado State University that showed how cats immunized with some vaccines have developed antibodies to proteins from cell cultures used to grow the vaccine antigens.

Antibodies against at least two of the identified cell culture protein contaminants are associated with autoimmune diseases in people, according to the data presented June 8, 2007, at the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM) meeting in Seattle, Wash. Identification of the proteins could not be released at press time.

Both presenters emphasized the fact that the work has not directly linked feline vaccination to kidney disease or other autoimmune diseases. They said research into the problem continues and that results will be published in the near future. For the time being, Drs. Lappin and Whittemore suggest that cats receive only the vaccines that are needed at the longest interval possible in accordance with published vaccine guidelines.

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