Sunday, December 20, 2015

The Parvo Cure Hoax and The Potential Danger of "Herbal Remedies"

 In 1978 the parvo virus was recognized as a separate virus and spread like wildfire. Parvo most often strikes puppies with a compromised immune system that have not been properly vaccinated before exposure to the virus. The diagnosis of parvo is made by a veterinarian after a thorough exam and testing for the presence of the virus itself in the feces.

There are two forms of parvo. The form of parvo most frequently recognized, presents with lethargy, severe bloody diarrhea, nausea and a lack of appetite. A puppy with the beginning stages of parvo may stand over a bowl of water, but will not drink. The puppy is becoming quickly dehydrated at this stage, and if he does drink, will most likely vomit the contents. As the bloody diarrhea becomes more explosive, if not treated with IV fluids, the puppy will die.

The second form of parvo attacks the heart muscle. The puppy will appear lethargic and dies within a matter of hours. This strain of parvo is considered rare, but very deadly.

Since parvo is a virus, it has no cure. Puppies survive with good quality supportive care. Treatment is immediate hospitalization, continuous IV fluids, medication for nausea, and antibiotics to stop any secondary bacterial infection from taking advantage of the compromised immune system. The puppy can be hospitalized for a few days to a week.
Parvo diarrhea

Nothing, including food, water, and medication can be given until the diarrhea and vomiting has stopped. Force feeding, use of oral hydration formulas, and giving medication by mouth, rarely do anything but make the puppy vomit.

Parvo can be expensive to treat, so it is not surprising that pet parents often look for alternatives to hospitalization. A pet parent may search the internet, looking for anything, that can help the puppy.

In such a time of desperation, it can be easy to grab onto any hope of a "parvo cure." Unfortunately, these "cures" usually result in the death of the puppy.

One such "parvo cure" claim has been made by a nutraceautical company, Amber Technologies.

Nutraceuticals, commonly sold as nutritional products, are derived from food sources and are said to have extra health benefits in addition to basic nutrition. These products can be sold, but must not make any claim suggesting they are a medication or offer a cure. 


Too often, these companies cross the line, as Amber Technologies did when the company claimed in its Puppies and Parvo: A Self Help Guide e-book and again on their parvo puppy website, that its products could cure parvo 85% of the time, and prevent it 95% of the time. Amber Technologies produce and market Paxxin (formally Parvaid) and Vibactra Plus, among others.

 In 2014, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), sent a warning letter to Amber Technologies. The letter stated that:

We have determined that several of your products marketed as “nutraceuticals for pets” are intended for use in the mitigation, treatment, or prevention of disease in animals, which makes them drugs under section 201(g)(1)(B) of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (the FD&C Act) [21 U.S.C. § 321(g)(1)(B)].Further, under the FD&C Act, drugs intended for use in animals require an approved new animal drug application unless they are generally recognized as safe and effective. As discussed below, we have determined that your drugs are not generally recognized as safe and effective and therefore your marketing of them without an approved new animal drug application violates the law.”

Further investigation revealed that the products were created by those with no medical training.


On page 14 of their e-book, the company with no medical training, referred to Vibactra Plus as "Amber Technology's antibiotic."
Actual screen shot from the e-book

  The company continues this claim on page 24 of their e-book: 

Actual screen shot from the e-book

Not only does the company not seem to understand the years of scientific research and development required to create an antibiotic, they make it clear in the book that they have a lack of understanding of the workings of the immune system. On page 14, they explain that veterinarians give antibiotics “due to the lack of white blood cells the body is producing.” While the white blood cell count does drop, antibiotics do not encourage the white blood cells to multiply. Antibiotics fight possible opportunistic bacterial infections. Parvo is a virus. No anti-viral exists at this time that will fight this virus.

The claim is also made that by using their products Vibactra Plus and Parvaid (Paxxin), the puppy will eat within two days compared to four days without their products (page 55).

On page 42 of the e-book, “hydrating enemas” are given as a viable option to IV fluids. The author claims that the large intestine will absorb the fluid and that a series of enemas should be given to prevent dehydration. The author misses the key component of the parvovirus....it destroys the lining of the intestines making it difficult, if not impossible, to absorb any fluids. 
 
The author addresses the research performed on their products with a “Parvo Study Sheet” (page 69). This “research” is referred to as “case studies”. The health of the puppies are described as “preaty good” (their spelling) , “wonderful” “short-tempered”, “fine”, and “great”.  THAT is the preposterous "clinical research" that went into the creation of these products.

Screen shot page 69
 
The two primary “nutraceuticals” mentioned in the book cost between $71-204 depending on the size purchased.

Since the FDA warning, the company now states that their products may help certain conditions, but have not removed the e-book from the web.

Interestingly, even though the company owners admit that they have no medical training, they still offer "parvo consultations."

Fear strikes all animal lovers when a pet contracts the parvo virus. In many ways, however, this medical deception is even more frightening. How many pets have died as a result of using these "herbal remedies" instead of using conventional medicine (including IV fluids, anti-nausea meds, and real antibiotics) that has saved thousands of puppies? 

While I do not discount the validity of some herbal treatments, Amber Technology crossed a line that should infuriate any animal lover. 

Our pets depend on us to care for them. Our first line of defense should be to prevent disease by proper vaccination, deworming,  lack of exposure to illnesses, and a healthy, well-balanced diet. If our pets do become ill, it is up to us to get them proper medical care. There are many things that we can treat at home, but parvo is not one of them. Every pet parent should do their best to be prepared for emergencies, including being financially prepared. Pet parents can create an emergency savings account or apply for Care Credit, a health care credit card for pets or people. 

For more information about pet illness, preparing for pet emergencies, or financing veterinary care, please check out my book Secrets of a Vet Tech II

The best interest of the pet should always be our first priority. Always.  
 
 

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