Fort Dodge Animal Health Introduces Equine West Nile Virus Combination Vaccines to Protect Against Two Deadly Mosquito-Borne Diseases

Press Release


OVERLAND PARK, KS (PRWEB) -– To better help horse owners and veterinarians combat the deadly double threat of West Nile virus and encephalomyelitis, commonly referred to as sleeping sickness, Fort Dodge Animal Health is introducing a line of West Nile-Innovator™/Encephalomyelitis combination vaccines. Available in time for the 2004 mosquito season, the USDA-approved vaccines provide proven protection against West Nile virus, as well as all prevalent strains of encephalomyelitis.

“Although the widespread advancement of West Nile virus has been capturing all of the headlines, we have also experienced an alarming increase in cases of equine encephalomyelitis,” said Lynn Bixler, Marketing Manager for Equine Biologicals at Fort Dodge Animal Health. “Parasitologists report that mosquitoes can carry and transmit both the West Nile virus and dangerous strains of encephalomyelitis. We know that the key to preventing these life-threatening diseases is early and regular vaccination.”

The new West Nile-Innovator vaccines are available in four different combinations to protect against West Nile virus, Eastern equine encephalomyelitis (EEE), Western equine encephalomyelitis (WEE), and Venezuelan equine encephalomyelitis (VEE). With the various combinations, veterinarians can customize protection for horses based on the risks of diseases in their regions. Two of the formulations include tetanus.

All of the newly licensed West Nile-Innovator vaccines contain the first USDA-approved West Nile virus developed by Fort Dodge Animal Health. The West Nile-Innovator vaccine has been proven safe and effective in the face of the recent and deadly national outbreak. “Millions of doses of West Nile-Innovator have been given safely to horses coast to coast in the past two years, and played an instrumental role in protecting and. more importantly, reducing the incidence of the disease in horses in some areas,” said Bixler.

While complete data for 2003 has yet to be compiled, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) previously made projections of equine West Nile virus cases that illustrate the important role vaccination plays in prevention. An information sheet published earlier this year by the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service forecasted that the northeast and southern regions of the United States would experience fewer new cases of the equine West Nile virus in 2003, attributing the decline to protective immunity created by West Nile virus vaccination, or prior natural exposure to the disease.

As the disease continues to spread westward across the country, the government report also predicted that the western region may experience an increased incidence of the disease in 2003, because effective immunity through vaccination or disease exposure has yet to impact the majority of the horse population in these regions.

At the same time, the animal health community has become extremely concerned with the proliferation of encephalomyelitis, particularly EEE – also known as sleeping sickness – which has increased dramatically in the past two years, especially in the southeast.

Health agencies reported a record number of horses infected with EEE in 2003. In some areas, the number of cases has risen nearly 8,000 percent compared to a year ago. EEE, which has a 90 percent fatality rate, runs in cycles, and equine experts predict it can spread rapidly across the country like West Nile virus.

“While these diseases have similar symptoms and are often mistaken for each other, vaccination for West Nile virus will not protect horses from EEE, nor will an EEE vaccine protect against West Nile,” explained Bixler. “Our innovative combination vaccines ensure maximum protection against both potentially fatal mosquito-borne diseases in one convenient vaccine.”

Horse owners are encouraged to vaccinate early. The new line of West Nile-Innovator/Encephalomyelitis combination vaccines is available only through licensed veterinarians. For more information, visit www.equinewestnile.com.

Fort Dodge Animal Health, a division of Wyeth (NYSE:WYE), is a leading manufacturer and distributor of prescription and over-the-counter animal health care products for the livestock, companion animal, equine, swine and poultry industries in North America and international markets. Key products include CYDECTIN® Pour-On, QUEST® Gel, EtoGesic® Tablets, ProHeart ® 6 Injection, Fel-O-Vax® FIV and Innovator™ equine vaccines.
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