Veterinarians are raising alarm over declining pet vaccinations, saying anti-vaxx scares are putting pets at risk of deadly diseases, including some that can infect humans.
The Federation of European Companion Animal Veterinary Associations revealed that dog and cat populations in the United Kingdom are losing their herd immunity as a result of anti-vaccination conspiracies.
The People's Dispensary for Sick Animals estimates that 25 percent of dogs or roughly 2.2 million are no longer receiving the primary course of vaccinations. As for the cat population, about 35 percent are unvaccinated.
Cat or dog population must have at least 70 percent immunization rate to allow herd immunity to take effect, by which viruses are unlikely to spread and threaten unvaccinated animals.
Anti-vaxx Pet Owners
In the past months, rising anti-vaccine sentiment in the United States and around the world was noted. Due to myths and other unfounded information, some parents are convinced that vaccination can cause side effects such as autism and other diseases.
Worse, despite the measles outbreak that has swept the country, there are at least 20 states that have filed bills that will make it easier for parents to exempt their children from vaccination, even for non-medical reasons.
The growing anti-vaxx movement of parents refusing to immunize their children from preventable disease seemed to have influenced even pet owners.
"Pet owners now have a wealth of online resources at their fingertips to discover more about animal health issues and treatments, but much of this can be misleading and is not based on scientific evidence or research," said Wolfgang Dohne, president of FECAVA.
Australia-based veterinarian Sam Kovac said anti-vaxxers do not deserve to have animals as pets if they were willing to put them at risk of diseases such as canine parvovirus.
"They are sentencing their dog to death from one of the most shocking, horrible viruses you can imagine," Kovac said.
Possible Parvovirus Outbreak
Dohne said that in the age of vaccine hesitancy, complacency over animal immunization is a deadly mistake.
The two most common vaccines for dogs being skipped by pet owners include immunization for Parvovirus, a virus that attacks the cells in a dog's intestines, and distemper, that is the equivalent of measles in canines. Both diseases can be fatal to dogs.
Due to declining vaccinations, Parvovirosis could unnecessarily return and once again threaten dogs. If left untreated, the mortality rates for Parvovirosis can be as high as 90 percent.