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Wayne Rosenkrantz, DVM:
Atopic disease is an itchy, allergic hypersensitivity to environmental allergens.
It is the number one hypersensitivity disorder that's seen in veterinary medicine. The signs, as far as allergic manifeststations, is an itchy skin condition. The itching and scratching and self-trauma that patients do to themselves abrades the skin surface, and then more readily bacteria and yeast that may be on the surface of the skin can gain entrance and create infections. We can have more unusual conditions, like autoimmune disease or even skin cancer, that can mimic atopic dermatitis. So, it's critical that we end up with a proper diagnosis.
The misconception is, can we cure, can we fix this, can it go away with a single solitary treatment? And that's not the case, but there are a variety of different options that we have available. There are drugs that can either prevent or block the allergic reactions, like Apoquel, Atopica, Cytopoint. These drugs can be used long term, they have very high safety profiles. They can be used in conjunction with allergen specific immunotherapy.
ASI, which stands for allergen specific immunotherapy, this is the administration of allergy extracts in a controlled fashion, back to the patient to basically create what we call tolerance. So they no longer develop their clinical signs of itching and scratching and recurrent infections. The efficacy of immunotherapy varies. In our practices, we see about 60 to 70% of the patients responding favorably. There are patients where we will see results sometimes in the first few months. And there are some patients where therapy needs to be maintained for as long as a year before we see the full benefits of immunotherapy. This is a lifelong disease, and it's going to require a partnership with a veterinarian to really put them in the right diagnosis and the right treatment plan.