Researchers from the University of Arizona say they have tested a vaccine against canine Valley Fever that appears to strongly protect against the disease.
Valley Fever is a fungal disease commonly found in the southwest. You can become infected by breathing in the microscopic fungal spores from the air, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says.
Experts at UArizona College of Medicine in Tucson led the study involving a canine vaccine that included an initial dose and a booster 28 days later.
“The dogs had all sorts of laboratory evidence of active, very widespread disease, and the vaccine prevented it,” said John Galgiani, MD, director of the UArizona Valley Fever Center for Excellence and a professor of medicine.
The vaccine reportedly prevented or “greatly reduced” Valley Fever, and any symptoms that were present “were so mild as to be clinically irrelevant,” UA says.
Experts say a single dose of the vaccine did not protect against the disease, so boosters are necessary. Experts still have to determine how long immunity lasts with the vaccine.
“The Valley Fever Center for Excellence has been working to create an effective vaccine for the prevention of Valley fever in dogs for decades, and this study is a large step forward toward meeting the licensing requirements for a vaccine for dogs,” a press release states.
They’re hoping to have this available for veterinarians to administer by early 2023.
Data shows half of all U.S. cases of Valley Fever occur here in the Phoenix Metropolitan Area. The development of the canine vaccine opens up the possibility of a human vaccine against Valley Fever.
If this animal vaccine gets approved and they can get funding for human trials, they’ll use the same vaccine makeup.
Experts say, in humans, some Valley Fever suffers experience lengthy illness and some have long-term or fatal complications. Humans can experience fatigue, cough, fever, headache, pain, rashes, and shortness of breath.
It is estimated that Valley fever costs Arizona dog owners at least $60 million per year, according to experts. Symptoms of Valley Fever in dogs include coughing, fever, weight loss, lack of energy, and lack of appetite.
See the canine vaccine study here.