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Zoetis introduces Europe's first oral vaccine for companion animals

Zoetis has launched Versican Plus Bb Oral – the first oral vaccine for dogs in Europe.

The product protects against Bordetella bronchiseptica, which is a primary component of canine infectious respiratory disease complex (CIRDC).

Versican's oral administration route offers improved comfort for dogs and has a 12-month duration of immunity. Zoetis said Versican will be rolled out across the continent from now until October 2020.

The single-dose vaccine – for dogs that are eight weeks or older – has demonstrated safety when concurrently administered with the firm's Versican Plus and Vanguard Core ranges.

Speaking at the recent launch of the vaccine in Madrid, Dr Eileen Ball – global veterinary medical lead for companion animal infectious diseases for Zoetis – said: "Versican Plus Bb Oral provides robust protection along with an innovative and smooth means of administration. The new oral delivery brings a more positive experience for dogs, owners and vets.

"We expect this new option for vaccination will lead to an increase in recommendations for Bordetella prevention, better vaccination compliance and ultimately a healthier dog population. Nearly all dogs are at risk of CIRDC and Bordetella is a common but preventable pathogen."

Dr Ball – whose comments are also in the video below – added: "This product will make a big difference in the way infectious respiratory diseases in dogs are addressed but also this is an entirely new approach to vaccination. There's no needle involved and there's nothing uncomfortable that goes into the dog's nose. The risks of respiratory infection are real. However, sometimes there's a perception that it's just a cough. Respiratory infections can be severe and potentially even life-threatening."

Other products on market

While there are intranasal and injectable vaccines approved in Europe for B bronchiseptica, the US has already seen the introduction of oral vaccines.

Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health was the first into this market with the approval of Bronchi-Shield Oral at the end of 2012. Elanco acquired the Bronchi-Shield assets – a deal linked to Boehringer's coming together with Merial. Zoetis commercialized Vanguard B Oral for B bronchiseptica in the US during 2016.

Dr Ball said the introduction of Bronchi-Shield Oral to the US market was met with a positive reaction from vets and pet owners. Previously, intranasal vaccines had been preferred due to their fast onset of immunity.

However, oral B bronchiseptica vaccines are now the leading category in the US – their convenience has been key for uptake, as well as the reduction of stress for dogs. Dr Ball said there is no perceived difference in efficacy between oral vaccines and their intranasal counterparts.

The US oral B bronchiseptica vaccine market is worth around $47m. From 2014 until 2018, sales of injectable vaccines in this space have slowed down. Revenues from intranasal products have increased but not as rapidly as for oral vaccines.

Dr Ball said all routes of administration are required to give vets the best set options for B bronchiseptica prevention. Oral vaccines currently only protect against one pathogen (B bronchiseptica), while intranasal and injectable vaccines provide immunity against extra key pathogens.

While the oral vaccines are more convenient to use, the intranasal versions provide a faster onset of immunity.

CIRDC insight

CIRDC is also known as kennel cough – a descriptor that is not accurate, according to professor emeritus Michael Day of the UK's University of Bristol. At the Versican launch, he said this disease is a complex that features many causative pathogens.

"CIRDC is common," Prof Day commented. "It's a contagious disease but it's generally quite a mild disease. With a week or so most dogs tend to recover. However, there are some dogs for which this disease can be a bit more severe and, if certain pathogens get into the lungs of some dogs, it can cause pneumonia and cause death."

There are 21 infectious agents that are part of CIRDC and the "list continues to grow", according to Prof Day.

He stated: "The stage keeps changing. We've got organisms that have been identified as being part of this complex for a long time and we've got new ones that we're beginning to identify as new players in this disease."

Most vets are familiar with the traditional pathogens – canine distemper virus, canine adenovirus type 2, canine parainfluenza virus, canine herpesvirus and Bordetella bronchiseptica.

However, there are key emerging pathogens. These include canine respiratory coronavirus, canine pneumovirus, canine influenza virus, some Mycoplasma species and Streptococcus equi subspecies zooepidemicus.

"You cannot vaccinate a dog and stop it getting CIRDC," Prof Day explained. "There are 21 pathogens involved in this complex. Right now, we can only vaccinate against five or six of them. Vaccination is really important to inhibit the very common pathogens but CIRDC is not a vaccine-preventable disease. Vaccines provide a partial protection and reduce the severity of clinical injection.

"CIRDC has a multifactorial pathogenesis, involving environmental and lifestyle factors and numerous potentially causative organisms. CIRDC is not just a cough picked up in kennels. It can be spread in any space occupied by multiple dogs, including grooming parlors, dog day care establishments or dog parks. The pathogens have not disappeared over time and CIRDC is prevalent throughout Europe, with Bordetella bronchiseptica remaining a commonly identified agent in infected dogs.

"There will be different situations depending on circumstances in which either an oral, intranasal or injectable route of administration will be most appropriate."

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