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USDA licenses first-ever canine influenza vaccine

June 15, 2010 |  7:11 pm

DogmaskA vaccine to protect dogs from canine influenza, or H3N8, has received the U.S. Department of Agriculture's stamp of approval.

The company Intervet/Schering Plough Animal Health released the vaccine, called Nobivac, last year. Since then, Nobivac had been in limited use during a conditional period while additional safety tests were conducted, according to Intervet veterinarian and technical service manager Dr. Lisa Saabye.

Canine influenza is a highly contagious virus that was first identified in greyhounds at a Florida racing track in 2004. Since the virus was discovered, the USDA has noted outbreaks in 33 states, including several in California.

Infected dogs can exhibit symptoms similar to those for kennel cough, including cough, fever, nasal discharge, appetite loss and fatigue. The virus is spread primarily through infected dogs' respiratory secretions, so dogs that spend a lot of time in the company of other dogs (in boarding kennels, doggie day-care facilities, animal shelters and other places where animals are housed in close quarters) are most at risk. There's no evidence that the virus has ever spread from a dog to a human.

Learn more about the vaccine at The Times' health blog, Booster Shots.

-- Lindsay Barnett

Photo: A dog wears a mask after Chinese media reported that several dogs had become sickened with H1N1, or swine flu, in late 2009. Credit: Associated Press

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