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Breeder success stories 

Field trials of an innovative new vaccine


In April 2003, Merial Animal Health Limited launched the world’s first and only vaccine against canine herpes virus (CHV). Amongst the first to use this vaccine was Lincolnshire championship dog breeder Jolli King, and her experiences will be of interest to anyone involved in dog breeding.



Pankington Kennels is a successful breeding kennels, boarding kennels and cattery, and grooming parlour. Some 200 dogs may be present on site, and the strictest hygiene measures are in place to control disease spread, including boot dips, isolation wards and regular cleaning with bleach-based products.


Despite all these measures, CHV appears to have entered the kennels around March 2002, and puppy losses increased dramatically. Previously, pre-weaning losses had been less than 20%, with no more than one or two pups per litter affected. Suddenly, mortality rates had increased to more than 50%, and entire litters were being lost. Changes consistent with CHV, including bleeding under the skin and eye infections were noted.



Vaccination was introduced in February 2003, with all pregnant bitches receiving vaccine. Some bitches in mid-pregnancy only had time to receive one dose of vaccine. Even in these cases, a reduction in mortality was seen. However, those bitches receiving the full licensed course of two vaccinations – the first at heat and the second in mid-pregnancy – showed dramatic improvements.

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The results are summarised below:



Four bitches only received a single vaccination, due to late stage of pregnancy. Mixed success, overall weaning rate 55%.

Twenty-three bitches received two vaccinations. Dramatic improvement in survival rate 76%.


Other findings:

Improvement in birth weights

Significantly increased litter size 30%


These dramatic results demonstrate the impact of CHV in breeding kennels, and the efficacy of the new vaccine in preventing losses. The effects can be measured not just in monetary terms, with many more valuable puppies born, but more importantly as the first significant weapon against this well-known but previously unstoppable and soul-destroying virus.



Jolli King says: “ this has been such a tremendous help to me being able to use the vaccine and see such dramatic results. I think probably the worst part about having this virus was having apparently healthy if somewhat small puppies born and then watching them die one by one over the next few days. Whereas now our babies are born looking much more "positive" and each day they grow instead of fading. I have had three litters born that are [now] a week old….so far 100% alive and growing evenly, a year ago that was an impossibility



Ó Eurican Herpes 205 is a trademark of Merial Animal Health Limited

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