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Canine Valley fever vaccine could be available in early 2023

Published: Oct. 26, 2021 at 5:47 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - Arizona is a monumental step closer to having a canine vaccine against Valley fever. A University of Arizona-led study shows the potential vaccine shows high levels of protection against the fungus that causes Valley fever.

Experts say this new development in the fight against Valley fever is a game changer.

“I think for veterinary use this will be huge and I think it is a major milestone to get a vaccine,” Dr. John Galgiani, the director of the UA’s Valley Fever Center for Excellence.

Valley fever is a disease of the lungs caused by inhaling airborne particles of a fungus found in the southwest United States and parts of Mexico.

Dogs are very susceptible to Valley fever, and in some cases, it’s fatal. At this time, veterinarians don’t have a way to prevent Valley fever, but that could all change in less than two years.

“I think that in early 2023 the vaccine should be available. We have a couple of hoops to jump through and as long as we get those done, we can get there,” Galgiani said.

Researchers have successfully tested a Valley fever vaccine for dogs. The study found the disease was either prevented or reduced in dogs that received an initial vaccine and a booster dose about a month later. Any disease symptoms they observed were extremely mild.

Many veterinarians are ecstatic about this breakthrough.

“It shows really great success, great statistics, seems very safe. I’m really excited to start using it,” said PACC’s director of veterinary services, Dr. Jennifer Wilcox.

The shelter sees around 20 new Valley fever cases each month.

“It will be a real game changer for those of us who are trying to pick up the pieces when Valley fever really hasn’t been managed correctly. So if we can get good prophylaxis out there. It’s going to be great for our dog population,” Wilcox said.

As the canine vaccine moves closer to market, researchers don’t plan to stop there.

“If we show that it helps dogs, which in itself will be just wonderful, ... that will be evidence that this vaccine should really be developed for humans. I’m a physician and that’s where I want to take this as our next step,” Galgiani said.

You can find more information on the UA’s research about the vaccine here.

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