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Administering Vaccines Effectively

Clinician's Brief (Capsule)

Preventive Medicine

|December 2014

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Feline herpesvirus 1 (FHV-1)–infected cats can develop severe respiratory and ocular disease that may lead to death or euthanasia. In the United States, there are 3 vaccine formulations for prophylaxis: modified live (ML) vaccine for SC administration, ML for IN administration, and an inactivated vaccine for SC administration. In this study, 2 different vaccination strategies were compared with an unvaccinated control. In group 1 (n = 8), kittens received a single SC dose and a single IN dose of a ML vaccine concurrently. Group 2 kittens (n = 8) received a single SC dose of the same ML vaccine used in group 1. Seven days after vaccination, the 2 treatment groups and untreated control were challenged with an FHV-1 strain, and clinical scores were recorded for the next 21 days. Kittens in group 1 had significantly less severe clinical illness than those in group 2. In addition, there was significantly less FHV-1 shedding detected on DNA pharyngeal swabs in group 1 compared with group 2.

Global Commentary

This study will be of interest to practitioners in North America, but in most other parts of the world the intranasal core vaccines for cats are not available. It is important to appreciate the difference in efficacy between the 3 feline core vaccine components. A cat appropriately vaccinated against feline parvovirus will be protected from infection and disease, but the FHV-1 and feline calicivirus (FCV) vaccines do not prevent infection. Instead, these vaccines claim only to reduce the severity of clinical illness and potentially also virus shedding.

This novel study shows that providing FHV-1 vaccine by the parenteral and local mucosal routes leads to a more effective immune response in the upper respiratory tract that equates to better protection. While the study is interesting, it is not a recommendation to start adopting this protocol in general practice for our regular veterinarian-visiting feline patients. Use of a parenteral infectious (ML virus) combination core vaccine remains the approach of choice globally and the current global recommendations for kitten core vaccination are a first dose at 8–9 weeks of age, a second 3–4 weeks later, a third at 16 weeks of age or older, followed by revaccination at 12 months of age.—Michael J. Day, BSc, BVMS(Hons), PhD, DSc, DiplECVP, FASM, FRCPath, FRCVS


Concurrent administration of an intranasal vaccine containing feline herpesvirus-1 (FHV-1) with a parenteral vaccine containing FHV-1 is superior to parenteral vaccination alone in an acute FVH-1 challenge model. Reagan KL, Hawley JR, Lappin MR. VET J 201:202-206, 2014.

This capsule is part of the Global Edition of Clinician's Brief.

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