Equine Influenza: Merial Vaccine to be Used

Australian government and horse industry representatives have authorized the use of Merial’s vaccine ProteqFlu as part of the emergency response plan to contain and eradicate equine influenza. The vaccine will only be used in buffer zones created around areas with high concentrations of infected horses in New South Wales and Queensland.

At the request of the National Management Group, comprising the Chief Executive Officers of the Commonwealth and state/territory departments of agriculture/primary industries across Australia and the heads of the bodies representing the horse industries, Merial collaborated closely with Australian regulatory agencies to enable the provision of permits for the emergency use of ProteqFlu.

The emergency authorization now in place requires that supply and use of the vaccine be entirely under the direction of the Chief Veterinary Officers in New South Wales or Queensland. The vaccine is not available for sale to horse owners.

ProteqFlu has been developed using innovative recombinant technology to produce a vaccine that has the efficacy of a live vaccine, but with the safety of an inactivated vaccine. 

In the vaccine, a harmless canary pox virus is used as a vector to present a small fragment of the influenza virus to the animal’s immune system in such a way as to closely resemble natural infection. The result is a protective immune response in the vaccinated animal. The canary pox vector itself is non-replicating in horses or any other mammalian species, and it is attenuated so it does not cause disease even in canaries.

This recombinant technology has been developed and marketed across a number of species, including horses, cats, and dogs in the United States and Europe; safely and effectively protecting these animals against a number of diseases.

For advice on emergency control measures for equine influenza, contact your State Department of Primary Industry or Federal Department of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries though their Websites or emergency telephone lines.

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