USDA Approves First Canine Flu Vaccine

After nearly one million doses sold to veterinary clinics and shelters throughout the U.S. in the past year, the USDA now has granted full license to the first vaccine against canine influenza virus.

Known as Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8, the vaccine was given a conditional license on May 27, 2009, and has since been shown to reduce the signs, severity and spread of CIV infection, while also lowering the rate and severity of lung lesions.

The USDA approval now confirms the safety and effectiveness of the vaccine, where field experience data shows it is well-tolerated and has adverse effects comparable to those seen for other canine vaccines.

According to Steve Shell, Companion Animal Business Unit Head of Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, makers of the vaccine, more than 9,000 small animal practices nationwide have the vaccine in clinic.

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

CIV is a highly contagious respiratory disease in dogs caused by an influenza A virus, H3N8.

“In general, any dog that is in a closed room with other dogs for at least six hours or more can be considered at risk, particularly those that are boarded frequently, go to dog shows, dog day care and training classes, or are in shelters,” said Dr. Ronald D. Schultz, professor and chair of Department of Pathobiological Sciences, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Wisconsin-Madison.

“Other dogs that may be at risk include those in rescue groups and those that travel with families, particularly to endemic areas, are housed in breeder facilities or belong to animal healthcare personnel,” continued Crawford.

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

The cost of treating CIV and the potential for serious secondary infection, led the American Veterinary Medical Association to call for the development of a vaccine in 2006.

Now, Nobivac Canine Flu H3N8, made from inactivated virus, is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with canine influenza virus infection and 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.

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