Antibody to Control West Nile Virus Available

Novartis Animal Vaccines publicly announced last week the conditional licensing and availability of the only antibody product approved to aid in the control of disease caused by West Nile Virus. The annitbody helps an exposed animal neutralize virus in the blood. The approval was announced on Aug. 7 to USDA officials and state veterinarians.

For a product to receive conditional approval, the company must show that the product is safe, pure, and that there's reasonable expectation of efficacy.

West Nile Virus Antibody is a prescription product, administered intravenously by a licensed veterinarian. It is an antiserum product that increases the antibody level in the circulatory system. This enhances an animal's ability to neutralize virus present in the blood.

Richard Harland, DVM, director of research and development for Novartis Animal Vaccines, said, "When it comes to caring for horses that have the West Nile virus, veterinarians' options have been limited. Novartis has responded to this urgent need by developing a product that works against the virus."

According to Novartis, a study was performed at Cornell University that demonstrated the ability of the product to neutralize WNV. "Based on the study, researchers concluded there is a reasonable expectation of efficacy when the West Nile Virus Antibody is administered to horses that have been exposed to the virus," a release from the company stated.

"Field safety trials conducted to bring the product to market demonstrated West Nile Virus Antibody is safe when used according to label directions," said Harland. He also emphasized the importance of a routine vaccination schedule for horses and management steps to reduce mosquitoes in the stable area, thereby decreasing the chances of exposure.

"If an owner observes any clinical signs -- such as ataxia, depression, weakness of limbs, partial paralysis, and muscle twitching -- they should contact their veterinarian immediately," Harland explained. "An early diagnosis and prompt veterinary care will improve the chances of recovery."

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