In response to the H3N2 canine influenza (CIV) outbreaks that impacted dogs in 241 states, Merck Animal Health announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has issued a conditional product license for a vaccine to protect against this newly identified strain.
Canine Influenza Vaccine H3N2 will be available to U.S. veterinarians beginning Monday, November 23.
“We have a long history of bringing innovative products to the market that truly impact the health and well-being of animals, and this vaccine is another example of our deep commitment to animal health and veterinarians,” said KJ Varma, BVSc, Ph.D., Diplomate ACVCP, senior vice president of global research and development at Merck Animal Health. “Building on our legacy of vaccine expertise, we are excited to be able to offer a cutting-edge product that will protect dogs against this virulent strain of CIV, and further strengthen our position as the leader in vaccines and canine influenza.”
CIV can be spread by direct contact with respiratory discharge from infected dogs, through the air via a cough or sneeze and by contact with contaminated objects such as dog bowls, clothing or people moving between infected and uninfected dogs
According to clinical studies by researchers at the University of Wisconsin, the CIV H3N2 may be shed for an extended period of time – up to 24 days, which is far longer than what is seen with CIV H3N8.2 As a result, the infection can spread quickly among social dogs in inner cities, doggie daycares, boarding facilities, dog parks, sporting and show events and any location where dogs commingle.
“Based on experimental studies in Asia and the rate of spread we’ve observed, I would estimate that H3N2 produces 10 times more virus than H3N8, which makes it far more contagious,” said Edward Dubovi, Ph.D., professor of virology and director of Cornell University’s Animal Health Diagnostic Center Virology Laboratory. “Preventing the transmission of the disease through vaccination is highly recommended for those dogs that have lifestyles that put them at greater risk.”
Clinical signs of CIV H3N2 in dogs include coughing, fever, lethargy and interstitial pneumonia.
The Canine Influenza Vaccine H3N2 is recommended for healthy dogs 6 weeks of age or older.