Canine Influenza (a type A, subtype H3N8 virus) was first identified in the United States in 2004, and has continued to spread across the US and as of 2009, the virus has been detected in dogs in 30 states. Because of the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity to this virus, and infections can spread rapidly through boarding kennels, rescue shelters and breeding facilities. 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.
The new vaccine, produced by Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, reduces the incidence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing and viral shedding. It is administered by subcutaneous injection in two doses, two to four weeks apart, and may be given to dogs six weeks of age or older. The vaccine is intended to be given annually as a component of existing respiratory disease vaccine protocols to ensure more comprehensive protection.
Christopher Pappas, Jr., D.V.M., Director, Companion Animal Technical Services, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, said, "We developed the vaccine in response to the growing problem of the disease. We are pleased that our expertise in respiratory disease and vaccines can help prevent costly outbreaks and keep dogs healthier."
A conditional license means that the product may be distributed as authorized in each state and used under supervision of veterinarians. During the one-year conditional license period, the manufacturers will continue to submit data to the Center for Veterinary Biologics (CVB) in support of the product, which will be evaluated by government regulators to determine whether a regular product license may be issued. A conditional license is issued in cases where there is an emergence of a new virus for which there are no existing licensed vaccines, and requires less data proving the product’s efficacy that a regular license.
Terri Wasmoen, Ph.D., senior director of Biological Research for Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, says that dog owners might not necessarily realize their dog requires medical care until it begins to display symptoms of flu, which can in turn lead to respiratory complications and pathogens, commonly known as kennel cough syndrome. For Wasmoen, this strengthens the case for vaccination.