A new RNA-based vaccine approved by the USDA offers protection against the year-round threat of canine influenza.

RT’s Three Key Takeaways:

  1. The USDA has approved a new RNA-based vaccine, Nobivac NXT canine flu H3N2, for preventing canine influenza in dogs.
  2. The vaccine is expected to be available in veterinary clinics and hospitals across the United States by late summer.
  3. : The vaccine addresses the year-round threat of canine influenza, a serious respiratory illness easily transmitted between dogs.

Merck Animal Health, a division of Merck & Co, announced the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) approval of Nobivac NXT canine flu H3N2, a vaccine to help safeguard dogs against canine influenza. 

The product is expected to be available at veterinary clinics and hospitals nationwide late this summer.

RNA-Particle Technology for Protection

Nobivac NXT canine flu H3N2 is built on Merck Animal Health’s RNA-particle technology platform to deliver protection against the most prevalent canine influenza virus circulating in the United States. Nobivac NXT canine flu H3N2 is a nonadjuvanted, low-volume 0.5 mL dose vaccine that harnesses the natural ability of the immune system to generate a robust response, according to a release from the company. 

“On behalf of Merck Animal Health and our Nobivac brand, we are beyond proud to introduce our latest vaccine using ‘NXT-level’ technology. This is a groundbreaking advancement in our vaccine pipeline designed to meet the evolving needs of veterinarians and pet owners alike,” says Christine Royal, DVM, vice president of companion animal and equine business unit at Merck Animal Health, in a release.

The product is indicated for the vaccination of healthy dogs eight weeks of age or older against canine influenza H3N2.

Year-Round Threat of Canine Influenza

Canine influenza, or dog flu, is a serious respiratory illness that is easily transmitted from dog to dog. Canines are social creatures by nature and are at risk for infection when exposed to the virus. Moreover, unlike human flu, canine influenza is not seasonal; dogs are susceptible to it year-round, which is why it’s important to vaccinate every year.

“Vaccination is the best form of protection against this highly transmissible disease. When canine influenza does show up in large outbreaks, it can have a widespread impact,” says Meg Conlon, DVM, executive director of veterinary professional services at Merck Animal Health, in a release. “Pets have become part of the family and are integrated into so many aspects of our lives, which makes vaccination even more crucial. At Merck Animal Health, we continue to stress the importance of preventative care to keep our beloved pets healthy and protected from potential illness.”

Historical Context of Canine Influenza Vaccines

Merck Animal Health launched the first canine influenza vaccine—Nobivac canine flu H3N8—in 2009. When canine influenza H3N2 emerged as an epidemic in the United States in 2015, Merck Animal Health made its monovalent H3N2 vaccine available to protect dogs against the disease; and in 2016, the company was first to receive a fully licensed bivalent and monovalent H3N2 vaccine.

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