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West Nile Virus Cases in Horses Continue to Climb

As overall number of WNV cases grows, Western United States especially hard hit

Duluth, Ga., September 22, 2006 – According to the most recent figures from the U.S. Geological Survey, more than 670 cases of West Nile Virus disease in horses have been reported this year.1 As the number of cases continues to grow, states west of the Mississippi River — including California, Idaho, Missouri and Utah — have been especially hard hit, accounting for about 80% of the total reported cases.1 In some heavily affected states, such as Missouri, the number of cases to date in 2006 has surpassed the number of cases reported in the state in all of 2005.2,3 Equine WNV cases have also been recorded in states east of the Mississippi River, although at lower levels than in the western half of the country.1

“As September ushers in cooler temperatures, it’s easy to become complacent about mosquito-borne diseases such as WNV,” says Dr. Frank Hurtig, DVM, MBA, associate director of equine veterinary medical affairs at Merial. “In reality, now through October is the peak season for WNV, and horse owners must keep their guard up against this potentially deadly infection.”

To prevent further cases of WNV, owners should vaccinate their horses against infection and take steps to reduce exposure to mosquitoes by removing standing water sources, such as stock tanks, unused water troughs and other containers that can collect water, where mosquitoes can breed.4

“All of the equine WNV cases reported in the United States could have been prevented through a simple vaccination,” says Dr. Jason Moulton, DVM, from the Animal Health Clinic in Blackfoot, Idaho. “Since a safe and quick-acting solution, such as a canarypox-vectored recombinant WNV vaccine is available, there simply is no reason for horses to continue to fall victim to WNV.”

RECOMBITEK® Equine WNV vaccine uses recombinant canarypox-vectored technology to safely deliver quick protection against WNV in horses after a single vaccination.5 Canarypox-vectored technology uses only the necessary parts of the of the virus to stimulate immunity.

RECOMBITEK Equine WNV, from Merial, also provides season-long protection in unvaccinated horses after two doses and can be used as an annual booster. In addition, it has been shown to provide protection in horses previously vaccinated with the killed WNV vaccines currently on the market.6

For official state-by-state case counts and interactive maps, visit http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_us_veterinary.html .

About Merial

Merial is a world-leading, innovation-driven animal health company, providing a comprehensive range of products to enhance the health, well-being and performance of a wide range of animals. Merial employs approximately 5,000 people and operates in more than 150 countries worldwide. Its 2005 sales were in excess of $1.9 billion.

Merial Limited is a joint venture between Merck & Co., Inc. and sanofi-aventis. For more information, please see http://www.merial.com .


1U.S. Geological Survey. West Nile Virus veterinary maps, 2006. Cumulative data as of 3 a.m., September 12, 2006. Available at: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_us_veterinary.html . Accessed September 13, 2006.

2U.S. Geological Survey. West Nile Virus veterinary maps, 2005, Missouri. Cumulative data as of 3 a.m., May 6, 2006. Available at: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/2005/wnv/wnv_mo_veterinary.html. Accessed September 13, 2006.

3U.S. Geological Survey. West Nile Virus veterinary maps, 2006, Missouri. Cumulative data as of 3 a.m., May 6, 2006. Available at: http://diseasemaps.usgs.gov/wnv_mo_veterinary.html. Accessed September 13, 2006.

4Department of Health and Human Services Centers for Disease Control. West Nile Virus fact sheet. September 27, 2005. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/ncidod/dvbid/westnile/resources/WNV_factsheet.pdf. Accessed September 13, 2006.

5Siger L, et al. Assessment of the efficacy of a single dose of a recombinant vaccine against West Nile virus in response to natural challenge with West Nile virus-infected mosquitoes in horses. American Journal of Veterinary Research. 2004;65(11):1459-1462.

6Grosenbaugh DA, et al. The anamnestic serologic response to vaccination with a canarypox virus-vectored recombinant West Nile virus (WNV) vaccine in horses previously vaccinated with an inactivated WNV vaccine. Veterinary Therapeutics. 2004;5(4):251-257.

®RECOMBITEKis a registered trademark of Merial.

©2006 Merial Limited, Duluth, GA. All rights reserved.


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