Fort Dodge Animal Health has announced that its Duvaxyn WNV vaccineagainst West Nile virus (WNV) is now available in the UK, following itslicensing through the European Medicines Agency (EMEA).

MosquitoDuvaxyn WNV is the first vaccine available in Europe to protect horses against this emerging disease threat. 288 horses and two people in Italy were found to be infected with WNV during the outbreak that hit northern Italy in late 2008 where it is now considered endemic. The disease is endemic in all areas of North America where it has claimed the lives of both horses and humans.

West Nile virus is caused by a highly contagious flavivirus, which is transmitted by mosquitoes, primarily of the Culex species. The natural hosts are birds, with migratory birds from Africa carrying the disease. Mosquitoes become infected after taking a blood meal from infected birds and then may transmit the disease to horses and even humans.

While horses are “dead end hosts”, the consequences can be severe as the virus causes encephalitis or meningitis. Mortality rates among horses which develop neurological signs are high and there is no palliative cure for the disease. Treatment is limited to symptomatic relief which can be long and expensive.

Sabrina Jordan, UK business manager for equine vaccines at Fort Dodge, said: “WNV is an increasing threat to the equestrian sector in the UK and is a particular challenge for owners who transport their horses around the world. The fact that a vaccine is now available will undoubtedly offer peace of mind to the equestrian community. They can be reassured that horses in the UK can now be vaccinated against WNV with a vaccine that has already been shown to be highly effective in protecting horses in America.”

Duvaxyn WNV syringe

“With any vaccine, a record that a horse has been vaccinated with Duvaxyn WNV should be recorded in its horse passport. By presenting this vaccine in pre-filled syringes with Infovax-ID labels, we’ve aimed to make both the administration and record keeping of Duvaxyn WNV as convenient as possible,” she said.

“To build understanding of this potentially fatal disease threat, we are continuing to work with governments and authorities at a national and European level, as well as working in partnership with the UK’s veterinary community to ensure that owners are fully informed about the risk WNV poses and of the benefits of vaccination.”

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