By Sarah Schrock

Any modern-day mother knows the trials and tribulations on deciding on how to vaccinate their children. Conventional medical recommendations call for a slew of preventative injections upon birth and thereafter through childhood. Despite the recommendations, many parents opt out or vary the course of vaccinations for an alternative schedule.

Reasons for departure from the CDC recommendations range from religious, personal philosophies, and are often clouded with anxiety of unknown side effects, toxic preservatives, questionable ethics around manufacturing, a distaste for the profiteering medical industry, or acceptance of individual risk in the event of disease.

Because of a decreasing trend in full vaccinations in Washington state, a recent outbreak of mumps has been declared in Washington, requiring public school districts to adopt new guidelines and enforce rigid vaccination policies to curb the outbreak. As of Feb. 15, there were 469 total cases in Washington state, with no reported cases in Okanogan County, and Spokane County leading in infections. Faculty, staff and students need to provide evidence of the mumps vaccine or risk expulsion of up to a month from school or work in the event a positive case is identified at school. 

That’s a long time to be out of work and school. Essentially it puts a family on quarantine. If those of us with school kids thought the “ice day” cancellation of school last week was a burden, think if there’s a confirmed case of mumps at school and your kid isn’t covered? Quarantine is not fun.

The chaos of quarantine is too close to home for Patrick and Kat Heim at Rover’s Ranch. The dog kennel owners have had to deal with a vaccine-resistant strain of kennel cough, rendering them unable to operate their charming and loving dog kennel along Twin Lakes Road. The situation is definitely wreaking havoc on their business and causing a great deal of frustration for the dog-loving couple.

While kennel cough is normally preventable by a vaccine, and they require proof of coverage to board your pup, there appears to be a rise in cases not covered by the vaccine. Rover’s Ranch is not alone, as vets across the national and especially British Columbia are seeing a rise in infections.

Patrick called me the day before we were supposed to board our sweet Moshi and tell us the bad news. In a panic, I emailed and called everyone I knew to see who or where I could put her before we left for our trip to Idaho. Crisis averted, thankfully – we found her a spot at Aspen Kennels. But the crisis is short of over for Patrick and Kat, who now have to disinfect and quarantine their facility for a month, losing out on their livelihood, not to mention the sheer annoyance.

Pass along your sympathies to them as they deal with this nightmarish ordeal. And know that when they are up and running again, it will be safe for your pup and as always they will treat your dog as their own, with lots of love and exercise.

As the name implies, kennel cough is a respiratory disease that is highly contagious to dogs.  Symptoms include dry coughing spells, foamy discharge, and some dogs develop red, weepy, irritated eyes. It’s the canine version of cold so to speak and be dangerous to young, old, and dogs in compromised health. 

I write this as “heads up” to dog owners who might not be aware of how easy it is for your dog to catch it and to stay up on your vaccines. Even though this new strain isn’t covered by the normal vaccination, it’s worth the few dollars to get up to date and prevent what you can.

So if the weather isn’t wreaking havoc on your lifestyle, minimizing your risk of preventable diseases for your family and pets is probably worth it.


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