Pigeon Fever Vaccine Receives USDA Conditional Licensing

On March 5, Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica announced that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) had granted a conditionally licensed vaccine for Cornybacterium pseudotuberculosis, more commonly known as Pigeon Fever.

“We are proud to equip veterinarians with a vaccine to help in the fight against this serious and unpredictable disease,” said Robert Keene, DVM, Equine Technical Manager at Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc.

“During the last 5-7 years, an alarming increase in the number of Pigeon Fever cases has been reported in the United States, particularly in regions where it had never appeared before,” he added. “Until now, protocols used to combat this disease focused largely on treatment, not vaccination. Being the first to bring this vaccine to market exemplifies Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica’s (BIVI) commitment to shaping the future of equine health through innovative research.”

A conditional license is granted when there is a demonstrated need in the field for such a product. A conditionally licensed vaccine must have demonstrated field safety and a reasonable expectation of efficacy. Further efficacy and potency test studies are currently in progress. A conditionally licensed vaccine may be distributed as authorized in each state, and used by, or under the supervision of, a veterinarian.

C. pseudotuberculosis is a soil-borne bacteria that can persist for months in a variety of environmental conditions, and is primarily spread to horses through open wounds or flies. Prevalent in hot, dry climates, the disease was once thought to emerge sporadically in a few Western regions, but has recently appeared in areas such as Florida and Kentucky. Pigeon Fever presents itself most commonly as external abscesses in the pectoral region or ventral abdomen, and less often as internal abscesses or ulcerative lymphangitis (severe limb swelling).

Although less common, internal abscesses located in the liver, kidney, spleen and lungs have proven to be difficult to diagnose and treat, and have a mortality rate as high as 40% even with treatment. While easier to diagnose, treatment of external abscesses may be both very time-consuming and expensive as they must be lanced, drained and undergo daily cleaning until the infection in the area subsides.

“This vaccine is an important part of our commitment to working with horse owners and veterinarians to diminish the impact of Pigeon Fever,” said Keene. “To achieve the best possible results, horse owners should work closely with their veterinarians to implement vaccination into their biosecurity programs.

For more information about the new vaccine, veterinarians and horse owners should contact Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., Veterinary Technical Services at 866-638-2226 or visit






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