June 25, 2010

Oregon Dog Law Attorney: Canine Influenza (H3N8) Vaccine Licensed

The U.S. Department of Agriculture (“USDA”) has announced the granting of a full license to the vaccine against canine influenza virus (“CIV”), also known as H3N8. A conditional license was awarded on May 27, 2009, and the product has been in limited use as its safety has been evaluated. Manufacturer Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health recently issued a press release announcing the full approval.

According to the Iowa State University College of Veterinary Medicine, no “influenza viruses circulated in dogs until genetic changes in an equine influenza virus allowed this virus to spread efficiently in the canine population.” The H3N8 virus was first reported in and appeared to be confined to racing greyhounds, but it has since spread and caused respiratory disease in a variety of breeds in the general canine population.

Common symptoms appear to be persistent cough, purulent nasal discharge, and low-grade fever. Two canine influenza cases were reported in Oregon in 2005, but no known H3N8 outbreaks have appeared since then. The The Oregon Veterinary Medical Association (“VMA”) nevertheless points out that “the virus is considered to be endemic in the United States and cases could reappear in Oregon in the future.”

All dogs are now considered to be susceptible, although those that are kept in closed rooms with other dogs for at least six hours may be at greater risk. VMA notes that “if your dog stays at home and rarely contacts other dogs, its risk of contracting the virus is likely low. If your dog is boarded, goes to day care, or the dog park, it may be at a higher risk.”

University of Florida veterinary researcher Dr. Cynda Crawford, who discovered the canine influenza virus in 2004, has reported that “there were no side effects or safety issues [with the vaccine] in a field trial that included more than 700 dogs ranging in age from six weeks to 10 years and representing 30 breeds.” Given canine influenza’s potential to progress to secondary pneumonia if not treated properly and the vaccine’s apparent safety, owners of at-risk dogs should consider having them vaccinated.

Related Web Resources
Press Release, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health, NobivacĀ® Canine Flu Vaccine Granted License by USDA (June 9, 2010).
Or. Veterinary Med. Ass’n, Canine Influenza (H3N8) Virus: Vaccine For Dogs Now Available (Dec. 15, 2009).
Iowa State Univ. Coll. of Veterinary Med., Fact Sheet: Canine Influenza (Jan. 2009).
Cynda Crawford, 10 Things to Know About the H3N8 Dog Flu, N.Y. Times, July 2, 2009.

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