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Flu Vaccine for Animals

Vaccination in the veterinary world pursues four goals: (i) protection from clinical disease, (ii) protection from infection with virulent virus, (iii) protection from virus excretion, and (iv) serological differentiation of infected from vaccinated animals (so-called DIVA principle). In the field of influenza vaccination, neither commercially available nor experimentally tested vaccines have been shown so far to fulfil all of these requirements.

Poultry Influenza Vaccines

Poultry vaccines for bird flu are made on the cheap and are not filtered and purified like human vaccines to remove bits of bacteria or other viruses. They usually contain whole virus, not just hemagglutinin as in most human flu vaccines. Purification to standards needed for humans is far more expensive than the original creation of the unpurified vaccine from eggs. There is no market for veterinary vaccines that are that expensive. Another difference between human and poultry vaccines is that poultry vaccines are adjuvated with mineral oil, which induces a strong immune reaction but can cause inflammation and abscesses. "Chicken vaccinators who have accidentally jabbed themselves have developed painful swollen fingers or even lost thumbs, doctors said. Effectiveness may also be limited. Chicken vaccines are often only vaguely similar to circulating flu strains — some contain an H5N2 strain isolated in Mexico years ago. 'With a chicken, if you use a vaccine that's only 85 percent related, you'll get protection,' Dr. Cardona said. 'In humans, you can get a single point mutation, and a vaccine that's 99.99 percent related won't protect you.' 'Chickens are smaller and you only need to protect them for six weeks, because that's how long they live till you eat them,' said Dr. John J. Treanor, a vaccine expert at the University of Rochester. Human seasonal flu vaccines contain about 45 micrograms of antigen, while an experimental A(H5N1) vaccine contains 180. Chicken vaccines may contain less than 1 microgram. 'You have to be careful about extrapolating data from poultry to humans,' warned Dr. David E. Swayne, director of the agriculture department's Southeast Poultry Research Laboratory. 'Birds are more closely related to dinosaurs.'

Researchers, led by Nicholas Savill of the University of Edinburgh in Scotland, used mathematical models to simulate the spread of H5N1 and concluded that "at least 95 per cent of birds need to be protected to prevent the virus spreading silently. In practice, it is difficult to protect more than 90 per cent of a flock; protection levels achieved by a vaccine are usually much lower than this." The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has issued recommendations on the prevention and control of avian influenza in poultry, including the use of vaccination.

A filtered and purified Influenza A vaccine for humans is being developed and many countries have recommended it be stockpiled so if an Avian influenza pandemic starts jumping to humans, the vaccine can quickly be administered to avoid loss of life. Avian influenza is sometimes called avian flu, and commonly bird flu.

Swine Influenza Vaccines

Swine origin influenza virus (SoIV) vaccines are extensively used in the swine industry in Europe and North America. Most swine flu vaccine manufacturers include an H1N1 and an H3N2 SoIV strains.

Swine influenza has become a greater problem in recent decades. Evolution of the virus has resulted in inconsistent responses to traditional vaccines. Standard commercial swine origin flu vaccines are effective in controlling the problem when the virus strains match enough to have significant cross-protection and custom (autogenous) vaccines made from the specific viruses isolated are created and used in the more difficult cases. SoIV vaccine manufacture Novartis paints this picture: "A strain of swine origin influenza virus (SoIV) called H3N2, first identified in the US in 1998, has brought exasperating production losses to swine producers. Abortion storms are a common sign. Sows go off feed for two or three days and run a fever up to 106°F. Mortality in a naïve herd can run as high as 15%."

Equine Influenza Vaccines

Horses with horse flu can run a fever, have a dry hacking cough, have a runny nose, and become depressed and reluctant to eat or drink for several days but usually recover in two to three weeks. "Vaccination schedules generally require a primary course of 2 doses, 3–6 weeks apart, followed by boosters at 6–12 month intervals. It is generally recognised that in many cases such schedules may not maintain protective levels of antibody and more frequent administration is advised in high-risk situations."

It is a common requirement at shows in the United Kingdom that horses be vaccinated against equine flu and a vaccination card must be produced; the FEI requires vaccination every six months.

Canine Influenza Vaccines

In 2004, Influenza A virus subtype H3N8 was discovered to cause canine influenza. Because of the lack of previous exposure to this virus, dogs have no natural immunity to this virus. However, a vaccine is now available.