UPDATE: Sept. 20, 2011
“As fate would have it and as we all very well know, distemper is a cruel and many times deceiving disease. Such was the case with Millie. Millie crossed the Rainbow Bridge today. After making what for all practical purposes was a full recovery and after having gone 14 days post treatment with no symptoms, the neurological aspect of the virus reared its ugly head and it was simply more than she could overcome. I want to thank Ed for always being there with words of encouragement and for his endless support and dedication in helping get the word out that there is hope. I would also like to thank Dr H. for his help in giving verbal guidance to my vet with Millie’s initial treatment and lastly to Dr. S. for being willing to go “outside the box”. Your compassion is greatly appreciated. Even though Millie’s journey didn’t have the outcome we had all wanted, I have no doubt that under the right circumstances, this treatment is a means of survival for many dogs who would otherwise not have a chance and I would not hesitate to do it over again if the need arose. Please, to anyone reading this, if your vet even remotely suspects your dog has distemper, ask him/her to administer the NDV vaccine while waiting for lab results. Timing is so crucial in catching the virus before neurological systems occur. If treated prior to it breaking the blood brain barrier, the chances of survival are very good. Again, thank you to everyone who has silently been following Mille’s story and saying prayers. My vet and I learned a lot thru this little angel and I know it is thru this knowledge gained and with her loss, we will be able to save many lives in the future.”
Here’s Mary’s account of Millie’s case, as received on Aug. 31, 2011:
I want to start out by thanking my vet and his wonderful staff. If it weren’t for him being willing to go out on that limb and try something he had never heard of before, I know Millie would have become just another casualty of this horrible disease.
7/25: Millie (12 week old Rat Terrier) brought into the pound and given a 7/1 vaccination.
7/30: Adopted and brought home to East Texas with no apparent symptoms of any illness whatsoever. She is active and alert with typical puppy behavior. Got home and took temp. just for safe measures, 101.4. Appetite off and on.
8/1: First trip to the vet for checkup. Everything checks out good. Usual puppy parasites present. Received another vaccination with worm treatment.
8/3: Wet sounding cough develops.
8/5: trip to the vet for cough. Vet says worst case scenario is distemper. Lungs clear, eye/nose clear. No fever. Started on Doxacycline and vitamins. Given an antihistamine/antibiotic
injection and within 24 hours all symptoms are gone. Millie starts eating like a horse and is thriving. Growing and very, very active. Everything is rocking along until the seizures start.
8/18: Up all night with Millie having seizures every 45 min to an hour. She would start pacing then shortly there after stop and start salivating terribly with the “chewing gum” action. This would last 10 to 15 seconds followed by a couple minutes of extreme excitement. Afterwards, she would be hungry, eat well then crash until another seizure was about to start.
8/19: 7:30 at the vets. Millie was administered 2.5ml of Valium. Vet is fairly certain we are dealing with distemper. Still no eye/nose discharge, no cough and no fever. Blood work shows definite viral infection but does not confirm distemper. Sample sent to Texas A/M for confirmation. In the meantime she is placed on Phenobarbital for the seizures and a second antibiotic is added, Chpc, 1ml 3 x day. I also start her on 500mg of Vitamin C to help her immune system and 81mg of aspirin every 36 hours. Seizures completely stop. She is extremely slow but continues to eat well. She is kept quiet and in a non-stimulating environment thru the weekend. Having had dogs all my life and spending 15 years showing Goldens, I just refused to accept the fact that my new puppy was going to become another victim of this cruel disease. After spending hours on the computer Sunday (Aug. 21) afternoon, I came across “kindheartsinaction” and immediately sent Ed Bond an email. Within just a few minutes, he responded back with the names of two vets in Texas.
8/22: Contacted vet in Houston to find out more information. After discovering that what Millie needed was the spinal tap injection along with the IV injection of just the straight vaccine, I immediately contacted my vet and he was willing to give it a try. I purchased the vaccine and had it shipped directly to my vet. This is also the first day that Millie started showing signs of the respiratory phase with the matted eyes and nasal discharge.
[Click here for a PDF of the lab report on Millie’s distemper diagnosis.]
8/23: This is where I have to take a moment and say “thank you” to the vet in Houston. Had it not been for his willingness to help my vet do an evaluation of Millie to see if she was even a candidate for the procedure, help in the preparation of the vaccine, calculate the right dosage and actually share his insight as to how he would handle the procedure, my vet said he would not have been able to perform it. Millie was administered the IV injection sometime around noon. Sometime around 3:00, the spinal tap procedure was started and went just as planned. No problems or complications. She was kept overnight for observation purposes.
8/24: Millie experienced a mild twitching of her lip Wednesday morning before coming home. She rested comfortably but was extremely weak. However, she never lost her appetite and continued to drink as well. At this point, the Chpc was increased to 1ml 3 times a day and the phenabarb was decreased to 1/2ml (15mg) twice a day. Gentimycin eye drops were started 3/day. She was still receiving Doxacycline once a day along with the multi vitamin. That evening, the coughing had increased and there was just a huge amount of clear phlegm that she would sometimes cough up and out or cough up and swallow. At this point we are 24 hours post treatment and I’m already beginning to notice the eye/nasal discharge is subsiding. And there have been no seizures. My concern at this time was the phlegm and keeping her lungs cleared. We placed a humidifier next to her crate to help keep the nasal passages moist and open. She coughed all night.
8/25: Millie is having difficulty walking but she is trying really hard. Cough seems to be getting a tick worse along with the amount of phlegm but it remains clear. Eyes and nose have no discharge. She is still eating but refuses to drink which is so important so hubby, who stayed home with Millie to tend to her, starts pushing water. We continue the Vitamin C and baby aspirin regimen. The congestion appears to be getting worse although it remains in the upper respiratory tract and has not moved down into her lungs as of yet. Knowing that if this were a child with this sort of upper respiratory distress, breathing treatments would be being administered so a nebulizer was rented with a peds mask. At the direction of my vet, we administered 1ml of the Chpc antibiotic along with 4 drops of the Gentimycin drops and did breathing treatments twice a day starting the second night, post treatment. After just one treatment, we saw a significant improvement.
8/26: Significant improvement in her walking today. She continues to eat well but still is reluctant to drink so we continue to push the water. She has yet to have a bowel movement so that is now becoming a concern however, that was short lived. She is still moving slow but better. The coughing is starting to slack off but the congestion is still there. She is still eating well but in the afternoon, throws up and it is mostly just phlegm with a little food. She is put back strictly on the Science Diet AD critical care food and that remedies the problem. Several tiny meals a day we found works best during these early days of recovery.
8/27: Breathing treatments continue. By Saturday evening she is feeling much better and actually wants to play a little bit.
8/28: 6 days post treatment. NO SYMPTOMS OF ANY KIND! Congestion is totally gone. Lungs and upper respiratory system sound clear. She continues to get stronger with each passing day. Still a long, long way to go but I am becoming comfortable with the fact that I think this is one little dog this disease won’t claim. She continues to get her antibiotics, vitamins and baby aspirin. Although her demeanor is changing somewhat as she is becoming a bit standoffish but I would suspect a lot of that is contributed to what all she has been thru and the fact that we are constantly administering meds to her via syringe and she is just tired of it.
8/29: Millie continues to get stronger and stronger. Eating and drinking great. She does however, seems to act confused or bewildered at times. We are hoping that this is just a lingering affect from the neuro aspect of the disease and with time, will subside.
8/31: Things are rocking right along. We are now 7 days post-treatment with no symptoms showing what so ever. We increased the Phenobarbital last night to slightly over 1/2ml (15mg) and this seems to have helped her bewilderment tendencies. What a blessing Ed has been thorough out this process. He has been there 24/7 to answer even the most trite question. And Dr. Sears, thank you for never giving up. If it weren’t for you, there is no doubt Millie and the countless others before her would have become yet victims of this horrible disease.
— Mary Randolph