Merial’s World-Leading Vaccine for Newcastle Disease Now Available in the U.S.

US - Merial, now part of Boehringer Ingelheim, announces the introduction of AvinewTM. After 20 years of proven results internationally, Avinew is now available in the U.S.
calendar icon 18 January 2017
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In 1987, Dr. Pedro Villegas and Dr. John Glisson, from the University of Georgia College of Veterinary Medicine, were trying to isolate virus from the intestinal tract of turkeys. While analyzing the intestinal and fecal contents of both affected and unaffected turkeys, Villegas and Glisson saw something they did not expect to find in the intestinal tracts of healthy birds: a Newcastle Disease (ND) virus. This virus is frequently isolated in the respiratory tract, but it was a surprise to find it in the intestinal tract of healthy turkeys. Further investigation demonstrated that the infected birds developed ND antibodies while showing no respiratory reaction. This offered the first scientific evidence that this virus, designated the VG/GA strain, might be a candidate for vaccine development.

The next step was to vaccinate chickens with the VG/GA strain and challenge them with a virulent ND strain. These birds showed no clinical signs and no mortality occurred. Evidence of the potential value of the VG/GA strain as a vaccine was becoming apparent.

Historically, poultry producers had to cope with chronic post-vaccination respiratory reactions in chickens given the traditional lentogenic ND strains. Merial recognized the value of developing a vaccine from an asymptomatic ND strain such as VG/GA. This development project was started in the U.S. and completed in France, culminating with the release of Avinew in the international market.

A hallmark of exotic Newcastle Disease strain is the presence of the virus in the intestinal tract or gut. Traditional lentogenic strains, such as Hitchner B1 and LaSota, do not normally multiply in the gut. At the time the VG/GA strain was discovered, the conventional method for differentiating non-lentogenic strains was by checking for intestinal shedding of the virus. Because the VG/GA strain replicates in both respiratory tract and gut, Merial realized that the presence of the vaccine virus in the gut might complicate this method of detection. As a result, the decision was made to market Avinew only in countries where the presence of the vaccine virus in the gut would not be an issue.

More recent technological advances have brought about the development of tests that can now differentiate the VG/GA strain from field type ND viruses. This new technological development gave Merial the opportunity to introduce Avinew to the U.S. poultry industry.

Having Avinew available will be a great benefit to U.S. poultry producers. Dr. Glisson commented, “In my judgment, no vaccine ever offered to the poultry industry has been researched as thoroughly. Billions of birds have shown the same positive results we saw on the first group of chicks we tested more than 25 years ago.” Dr. Villegas added, “I am very pleased that after successful global use in countries with several pathogenic strains, including very virulent strains, Avinew is now available in the U.S.” What Glisson and Villegas anticipated in 1987 is now a reality. With more than 200 billion doses sold globally, Avinew has proven to be the vaccine of choice for Newcastle Disease due to its safety and efficacy. Dr. Glisson and Dr. Villegas are now professors emeriti.

Ludmila Starostina

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