Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Flu Vaccine?? Don't Jump on This One Right Away

The New York Times published this article about a newly FDA approved vaccine against canine Influenza (Flu).
New York Times Article (June 30, 2009)
Of course, they make it sound as if every dog with a "pushed-in" (brachycephalic) facial conformation should have this vaccine. However, a recent article in Veterinary Practice News (June 23, 2009) stated that "Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health’s Canine Influenza Vaccine, H3N8, has been granted a conditional product license." A conditional product license is just that--"conditional." The Veterinary Practice News article goes on to say that, "During the conditional license period, Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health will continue to submit data obtained in support of the product’s performance, which will be evaluated by government regulators to determine whether a regular product license may be issued. The vaccine, made from inactivated virus, has been demonstrated to reduce the incidence and severity of lung lesions, as well as the duration of coughing and viral shedding." This last statement is significant. It means that it does not prevent canine Influenza, nor does it cure the disease. "It is intended as an aid in the control of disease associated with canine influenza virus infection, a type A, subtype H3N8." So far, although it may play an important role in controlling existing outbreaks in group-housing situations (like shelters), veterinary infectious disease specialists are NOT yet recommending it for the average "dog on the street." The reasoning behind this position is explained in the Vet. Practice News article. "Because the virus is a novel pathogen, most dogs have no immunity to canine influenza. Therefore, the infection can spread quickly through animal shelters, adoption groups, pet stores, boarding kennels, veterinary clinics and any location where dogs congregate." However, in spite of the fact that it is highly contagious, it is not the "killer virus" that the media has implied. For more information on the disease itself, visit this page on Veterinary Partner, a client education site. (article)

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