New canine flu vaccine

24 Jun 2009
Canine influenza was first identified in the United States in 2004. Since then, CIV has continued to spread and has now been detected in dogs in 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to Dr. Crawford and Edward J. Dubovi, Ph.D., Professor of Virology, Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine, two of the nation’s leading experts on Canine H3N8 who have been tracking the disease since 2004.

Most dogs have no immunity to canine influenza because it is a novel pathogen and, therefore, the infection can spread quickly through animal shelters, adoption groups, pet stores, boarding kennels, veterinary clinics and any location where dogs congregate. According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there is no evidence of transmission of the virus from dogs to people.

According to Terri Wasmoen, Ph.D., an immunologist and senior director of Biological Research for Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, dog owners might not realize their pets are sick enough to need medical care until the dogs begin coughing, which occurs several days or more after the dog contracts CIV. The onset of coughing is a sign that the dog is vulnerable to pneumonia. “Preventing a viral infection that can make dogs susceptible to a complex of canine respiratory pathogens, commonly known as kennel cough syndrome, further strengthens the case for vaccination,” she said.

“Canine influenza is a highly contagious respiratory infection that has a significant impact on dogs housed in shelters, kennels and communal facilities,” said Cynda Crawford, D.V.M., Ph.D., University of Florida, Clinical Assistant Professor of Shelter Medicine. “The availability of a vaccine can help prevent the medical, financial and emotional costs associated with this new virus.”

Canine Influenza Vaccine, H3N8 has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing and viral shedding. The vaccine, made from inactivated virus, is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with canine influenza virus infection, a type A, subtype H3N8. It 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.


WASHINGTON, June 23, 2009–The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) today announced that it has issued a conditional license to Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health for a canine influenza virus (CIV) vaccine.

APHIS, through its Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB), granted the conditional license following the acceptance of data supporting product purity, safety and a reasonable expectation of efficacy. The safety data included the results of studies that evaluated the product under normal conditions, including field safety trials of the size and scope required for full licensure.

Dr. Cynda Crawford, a University of Florida College of Veterinary Medicine infectious-disease specialist who was instrumental in identifying the virus in racing greyhounds in 2004, is hearing from veterinarians who seek advice.

Crawford says: Unless your dog is regularly in close contact with other dogs, especially if you live in what she calls a “hot zone” (see below) where there’s an outbreak or where there have been multiple past outbreaks — the vaccination probably isn’t necessary. Dogs with weakened health or those travelling to hot zones are special cases that require discussion with a veterinarian.

The vast majority of dogs that contract CIV recover in one to three weeks (though up to 5% die, usually of pneumonia that develops secondary to the flu — generally older dogs, puppies and dogs with already compromised immune systems). And some will develop severe versions of the normal coughing, fever, runny-nose, loss-of-appetite symptoms. Some will require what vets call “supportive” help to keep sufficiently hydrated and fevers in check and sometimes antibiotics to battle pneumonia.

The American Veterinary Medical Association is not recommending vaccinating all dogs. But dogs that receive the Bordetella vaccine, the association says, should be considered strong candidates for flu vaccination because they’ve been determined to be at risk for the much-less-serious kennel cough through regular contact with many dogs, and that puts them at higher risk for CIV.

Hot Zones: some areas which have experienced protracted or repeated outbreaks. Those, which expert Cynda Crawford calls hot zones or hot spots, are:

– South Florida (which is in a quiet phase right now)
– Colorado Springs-Denver-Cheyenne, Wyo., corridor
– Philadelphia to eastern parts of New York and New Jersey

The AVMA says two additional spots Pittsburgh and surrounding environs and the Lexington, Ky., area “may be emerging as endemic” areas, meaning the virus seems to be well-established and showing up in relatively higher numbers.

Sources: Schering-Plough Animal Health, APHIS

Article URL:<