Fort Dodge Animal Health has received its licence for Duvaxyn WNV.

Licensed by the European Medicines Agency (EMEA), Duvaxyn WNV is the first equine West Nile virus vaccine licensed in Europe.

Fort Dodge says the announcement should provide reassurance to horse owners, particularly given the recent outbreak of the disease in northern Italy.

Horse with West Nile Virus (WNV) Welcoming the news, Professor Ann Cullinane, Head of Virology at the Irish Equine Centre, commented: “I was very pleased to hear that Duvaxyn WNV is now licensed in Europe.

“The virus was responsible for one of the worst arbovirus epidemics in the history of America and, since it was first identified in New York in 1999, has been responsible for thousands of horse fatalities. European outbreaks of West Nile virus have not yet been of the epidemic nature of the disease in the United States but it’s essential that Europe is in a state of disease preparedness. Our capability to mount an effective response to the virus has been significantly improved by the licensing of this vaccine.”

Fort Dodge, a global leader in vaccine development, was the first company to develop and licence a vaccine to protect horses against this potentially deadly disease. An inactivated whole virus vaccine, it was the only vaccine available in the US at the height of the 2002 outbreak, which affected 15,000 horses.

The US Department of Agriculture credited it with contributing to the 70 per cent decline in US equine WNV cases since the height of the outbreak. The disease is now considered endemic in America.

Helen Barnes, EMEA Equine Business Manager for Fort Dodge, added: “Following the recent Italian outbreak, West Nile virus is now regarded as endemic in Italy – a fact which confirms the threat it poses to the equestrian sector in Europe where the consequences of a major outbreak could be devastating.

“The outbreak in northern Italy, which resulted in five horse deaths and one human fatality, mirrors the US outbreak and sets it apart from previous European outbreaks. As environmental factors, such as global warming, threaten to create mass breeding grounds for mosquitoes, the seriousness of this emerging disease should not be underestimated. The fact that Duvaxyn® WNV is licensed means that horses in Europe can now be protected.

“Our experience with West Nile virus in the United States has given us an exceptional understanding of the disease and the importance of vaccination, and we’re now working in partnership with European governments, the EU Commission and the veterinary community to build knowledge of the disease.”

Fort Dodge Animal Health is a leading manufacturer and marketer of products for equine, livestock and small animal markets. Key products include EQUEST horse wormer brands; Duvaxyn® equine vaccines; Cydectin® cattle and sheep wormer; Guardian™SR heartworm injection and a range of poultry and pig vaccines.

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