What you need to know
Dr. Alson Sears, a retired veterinarian formerly of Lancaster, Calif., has developed a serum that can effectively treat and save a dog infected with canine distemper.
This serum is not considered a replacement for the distemper vaccine developed in 1950. But despite the widespread use of the vaccine, there are still cases of distemper in the United States and around the world. The distemper vaccine prevents the disease. Dr. Sears’ treatment is a way of effectively fighting the disease after the dog gets sick.
The key to the serum is the Newcastle virus vaccine, which was developed for chickens. However, in dogs the vaccine creates a response that can turn off the distemper virus. The serum is created by using a donor dog who is injected with the vaccine. The vaccine can be purchased at any agricultural store that deals with poultry.
Until very recently, this treatment had been considered only effective with dogs in the early stages of the disease – before the onset of neurological seizures. That is still the easiest and simplest way to defeat the disease, and it is still recommended that an infected dog be treated with the serum within six days of the onset of symptoms. However, a new procedure has been developed that by the end of 2008 has saved four dogs from the neurological phase of the disease.
Dr. Sears discovered this serum in the early 70s by accident, trying out an experimental procedure. He made a mistake in following this other protocol and unintentionally created his serum. However, suddenly dogs with distemper were getting better because of this mistake. He doesn’t know how or why the serum works, and to find out would cost money that he doesn’t have.
I believe in this treatment because my dog, Galen, came down with canine distemper in 1997. Dr. Sears treated him before the seizures hit, and Galen was completely cured. He lived a full life for nine years until he died of liver disease in October 2006.
I also believe in this treatment because in the past nine years, since I first posted my Web site on this treatment, I have heard from pet owners from around the world whose dogs have been saved by Dr. Sears’ serum. So many more dogs could have been saved if only their owners would have heard of the treatment in time.
What you need to do
1) If you suspect your dog has canine distemper, you need to confirm that the dog has the disease.
From Dr. Sears:
“The best test for rapidly diagnosing ACUTE distemper is to do what is called a brush border smear of the cells of the lining of the bladder. These cells ALWAYS have inclusions if distemper is present. So, easy to collect, easy to stain (quick dip) and instantly diagnosed inclusions in these cells are carmine red and para nuclear. These inclusions will NOT be present in long term distemper cases.
“Any medical person can tell you how to get cells from the bladder. Urinary catheter. Empty bladder, flush with saline and collect some of the last saline. Spin down the saline and remove the cells. Place on slide and dry stain with diff-quick. Very common stain used by most medics or lab people who use medical microscopy. Everyone? I should hope so. Very fast, very cheap, very accurate for Dx of distemper. If present then Distemper. If negative, then either Kennel Cough or Respiratory Herpes. or Toxoplasmosis.”
Don’t wait. Procrastination can mean death.
2) If it is distemper, you should contact Dr. Sears at: firstname.lastname@example.org
3) Because Dr. Sears is retired. You will need to find a vet willing to use Dr. Sears’ treatment. This will also include acquiring the Newcastle virus vaccine. If you have trouble finding a vet, please contact Save Dogs From Canine Distemper. We may be able to help you, depending on where you are. We also can offer practical support while you are going through this ordeal. Tell us where you are, whether you have a diagnosis, what symptoms you are seeing, whether there have been seizures or neurologic problems, as well as the age and breed of the dog.
4) You may also have to find a donor dog to create the serum. The ideal dog would be an 8-12 month old mixed breed dog 60-100 lbs, young and healthy. From Dr. Sears: “(This is) perfectly safe in donor dogs. However, I would advise a younger mixed breed so that you have the best of immune systems to function. What is amazing is that it can be collected in serum and stored for up to 5 years and maintain it’s effectiveness. This is why we used serum.” However, you may not have time to make the serum. Or it may be difficult to find a donor dog. Also serum cannot be legally shipped, so it would have to be made by a vet at a clinic and the sick dog would have to be treated there.
5) BUT, often using the straight vaccine may also be effective. Here’s a post that explains how that works. HOWEVER, the straight vaccine will not work for puppies 12 weeks old or younger or for any other dog with a immune system too weak to create the needed cytokines. The straight vaccine will not work if, for example, the dog has been fighting the disease for weeks. Early treatment is always best. The dosage depends on the weight of the dog. From Dr. Sears: ” Anything under 10 lb. gets 1/2 cc IV. UP to 20 lb. 1cc IV. for 20 to 40 lbs use 2 cc IV. Anything larger use 2.5 cc IV.” Again, don’t wait. Procrastination means death.
6) In battling the disease, you also must be very careful about preventing secondary infections. The dog’s immune system is weakened, and so other diseases may strike. You will need to continue a regimen given by your vet to keep your dog’s immune system as strong as possible. Note: If your dog is having significant trouble with pneumonia, talk to your vet about having him/her placed in an oxygen tent until stabilized. Not only will this improve O2 saturation, but will speed up the effectiveness of the antibiotics being prescribed at a time when there is no time to waste. Pneumonia kills dogs that might otherwise be cured of the distemper virus, so it is important to treat both the primary and the secondary infection aggressively. In certain circumstances where faster delivery is important IV antibiotics may be better than oral ones.
7) Even if the treatment is successful, the disease has probably done damage to the lungs, stomach, eyes, pads of the feet, etc. You will need to treat these symptoms as needed.
8) If your dog has gone in to the neurological phase, you will need to pursue the newer treatment, which involves an injection into the spinal canal. Here are Dr. Sears’ notes on this advanced treatment.
9) Please document your case. Take photos, keep copies of records that show your dog’s progression into the disease and into recovery. Post your stories to the Facebook page. We need these records and your stories to establish a track record of successes.
If you want to help us further, join the Facebook group, invite your friends to join and if you have a Web site or blog, please add our links to your site. If you have a dog that has been saved, you can help spread the word by putting up a Facebook page about it. If you have a dog that has gone through the NDV spinal tap, be sure to add your experiences to our discussion board. What you learn may help other owners get their dogs through this ordeal. Also, you could help us A LOT if you would be willing to use your dog as a serum donor.