Kennel cough vaccine for dogs when living with someone on immunesuppresant drugs


I took my 2 dogs to the vets yesterday for their annual vaccinations, before they took my dogs they asked if anyone living in our house was immune comprised as the kennel cough vaccine is a live vaccine! My 22 year old daughter has had JIA since she was 1 year old, she still lives at home, she takes 15mg of Methotrexate once a week and 2 weeks ago started on Benepali (Ethanercept) to try and get on top of her recent 'flares' as Methotrexate no longer seems to be enough. I explained this to my vet and they said it would be best to get this checked out before the dogs had the kennel cough 'live' vaccine as there is potential for vaccine-associated disease to be passed on if she has close contact with the dogs for up to 6 weeks after the vaccine.

Please can you advise if it is best not to get the dogs vaccinated for kennel cough and if you've heard of any cases of it being passed on.

Thank you,

Sandra Johnson


  • Mike1
    Mike1 Member Posts: 1,992

    Just found this on the internet:

    "Kennel Cough Vaccination Information Sheet

    About Kennel Cough - Kennel cough is the term frequently used to describe upper respiratory tract infections in dogs. In many animals the symptoms are mild to moderate but often distressing for the dog. In some animals it can however become much more serious. Kennel cough can be caused by several different bacteria and viruses. These are spread by aerosol (droplets of water in coughs and sneezes), so your dog doesn’t even need to be in direct contact with another dog to catch it. By vaccinating you pet against the main associated bugs, we can greatly reduce the chance of them picking up this disease.

    Kennel Cough Vaccination - The kennel cough vaccination is a live vaccine. It contains an avirulent vaccine strain of Bordetella bronchiseptica, the main bacterial cause of kennel cough. As a live vaccine, it can occasionally cause some mild coughing and sneezing for a few days following the vaccination. If you are worried about any symptoms in your pet following vaccination, please let us know.

    Immunocompromised Owners - As a live vaccine, there is a very low theoretical risk that it could be transmitted to severely immunocompromised humans. As per the advice from MSD Animal Health, manufacturers of Nobivac Kennel Cough vaccine, this would be ‘individuals that are known to be either affected by illness involving significant compromise of the immune system such as AIDS or other immune deficiency disorder OR receiving treatment or medication in ways that they have been warned may significantly suppress immunity’. As mentioned above, this is a theoretical risk. Despite kennel cough vaccination being used in many countries around the world, there are no known confirmed cases of the vaccination strain causing clinical disease in humans. It is also important to note that dogs infected with kennel cough are a far greater risk to immunocompromised individuals than pets who have received a vaccination.

    The extract below from the advice given by MSD Animal Health explains this further: ‘Field strain Bordetella bronchiseptica [the type which dogs can contract from other dogs] is widespread in the population of dogs as well as a range of other domestic species. A dog that develops this common infection could harbour this organism for many months afterwards and potentially spread this to other in-contact animals and humans. In contrast the vaccine not only reduces the risk of clinical disease but has been shown to reduce the risk of excretion of field organism beyond 3 months postvaccination.’ If you have any concerns about whether kennel cough vaccination could affect the health of you or a family member, please raise your concerns with your vet prior to vaccination or speak to your GP."

    Hope that helps.

  • iluvhobbits
    iluvhobbits Member Posts: 32

    Thank you that's very helpful.

    I have also contacted the Biologic Helpline who care for my daughter to get their thoughts. I think there has now been a know case of this happening which is why vets are now obliged to point this risk out prior to vaccinations as it had never been mentioned before.

  • Hi Sandra (and thanks Mike)

    The kennel cough vaccination is an interesting question. However it's not one we'd be able to answer. You'd need to check with your daughter's rheumatology team whether the degree of immune effect provided by her meds mean that she falls into that theoretical risk group.

    You might want to post on the living with arthritis forum too.

    very best wishes

    Guy - Helpline Team

  • Hi Sandra

    reading your post with interest i deliberately searched on here thinking it must crop up often but could only find your one post. I was also advised of this at the vets when she was just about to vaccinate the puppy. I plan on contacting my rheumatology to check what they think. Out of interest did you get the dogs vaccinated in the end?



  • iluvhobbits
    iluvhobbits Member Posts: 32

    Hi Michelle,

    My daughter checked with her Biologics team who agreed there was a slight potential risk but with my daughter's agreement we decided to go ahead and got the dogs vaccinated for kennel cough. She was careful around them for a couple of weeks but was absolutely fine. I think vets are being more cautious & pointing things out that they might not have done before with everything else going on at the moment!

    Take care,