USDA Grants Full License To Canine Influenza Virus Vaccine

Canine influenza virus vaccine granted full license by USDA.

Map courtesy of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health.

The United States Department of Agriculture has granted a full license to Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health’s Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8. This is the first vaccine against canine influenza virus (CIV), according to the company, which announced the approval June 9, 2010.

The full license means that the USDA confirms the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine. Nobivac Canine Flu “has been shown to significantly decrease the signs, severity and spread of CIV infection. The vaccine has also been shown to reduce the incidence and severity of lung lesions,” the company reported, adding that field experience data shows that the vaccine is well-tolerated.

The licensure follows the evaluation of the vaccine’s use by veterinarians since May 27, 2009, when a conditional license was awarded. Nearly one million doses of the vaccine have been sold to veterinary clinics and shelters throughout the United States during the past year.

“We are pleased the USDA has confirmed the value of this important vaccine for canine health,” said Steve Shell, head of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health’s Companion Animal Business Unit. “Animal care practitioners have welcomed its availability. More than 9,000 small animal practices across the U.S. have the vaccine in clinic.

“Though not considered a core vaccine, Nobivac Canine Flu is commonly recommended by veterinarians for at-risk social dogs, i.e., those regularly receiving Bordetella vaccination because they are frequently in contact with other dogs.”

The company noted that the vaccine was developed in response to the growing threat posed by the virus as well as to the American Veterinary Medical Association’s 2006 call for the development of a vaccine against the spread of the disease.

CIV is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by an influenza A virus, H3N8. In 2004, Cynda Crawford, DVM, Ph.D., clinical assistant professor of Shelter Medicine at the University of Florida, and Edward Dubovi, Ph.D., professor of Virology at Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, along with their colleagues, were the first to discover that the spread of the respiratory disease in the general dog population was caused by CIV.

“Like influenza vaccines used in other species, the canine influenza vaccine does not prevent infection,” Dr. Crawford said. “However, it significantly reduces clinical disease and the risk for pneumonia, and vaccinated dogs shed much less virus so they are less contagious to other dogs.

“Vaccine-induced protection is not only important to the health and welfare of individual dogs, but also decreases the likelihood of an influenza outbreak in a population if most of the dogs are vaccinated.”

Cases of canine influenza have been identified in 33 states and the District of Columbia. During 2009-2010, outbreaks occurred in shelters, kennels, dog daycare centers, veterinary clinics and other facilities in Pennsylvania, New York, New Jersey, Colorado, Connecticut and Virginia, the company reported.

Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8, made from inactivated virus, is administered by subcutaneous injection in two doses, two to four weeks apart. It may be given to dogs six weeks of age or older and can be given annually as a component of existing respiratory disease vaccine protocols to ensure more comprehensive protection, according to the company.

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health is a subsidiary of Merck & Co. Inc. of Whitehouse Station, N.J.

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