Elanco announces first-ever canine parvovirus treatment
Veterinary teams and shelter staff handle plenty of tough medical situations on a regular basis, but few hit as hard as canine parvovirus.
“We expect to have to euthanize old dogs. We expect to treat cancer. It’s fate, or it’s bad luck,” said Katie Berlin, DVM, director of content strategy at AAHA. “But to have to put a young dog to sleep, or watch one fade away, because of a preventable disease? It’s crushing.”
The emotional toll isn’t the only difficult aspect of this devastating disease, especially for pet owners; the supportive care that’s historically been the only option for dogs with parvo is labor-intensive and costly, typically involving multiple days in the hospital—and many dogs still don’t survive.
Therefore, it’s no wonder the industry responded with such enthusiasm to Elanco’s announcement of its new Canine Parvovirus Monoclonal Antibody (CPMA) treatment, which has now been granted a conditional license by the US Department of Agriculture. This treatment has the potential to be an absolute gamechanger in fighting a deadly, highly transmissible disease.
“Zero dogs died”
In Elanco’s treatment efficacy study that included 28 eight-week-old puppies, “zero dogs died when treated with the CPMA,” said Kristin Zersen, DVM, DACVECC, assistant professor of small animal emergency and critical care at Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital. Compared to parvo’s 91% mortality rate for dogs not treated with supportive care, that’s extremely good news.
Although the study focused on eight-week-old puppies, Zersen said that safety studies have shown the CPMA is well tolerated in puppies as young as six weeks old.
“The puppies treated with CPMA had significantly faster times to resolution of vomiting, inappetence and lethargy,” she said, adding that, with conditional license approval, she and Michael Lappin, professor of infectious disease in the Department of Clinical Sciences at Colorado State University, will be conducting clinical research on CPMA.
What to know about CPMA
This targeted treatment is Elanco’s first monoclonal antibody and is given in a single, intravenous dose. It’s the only treatment available for parvo, which affects an estimated 330,000 dogs each year, and it can be given to all dogs and puppies at least eight weeks old who test positive. There’s no specific stage at which it should or should not be given. “The treatment should be given at the time of diagnosis, as early in the course of disease as possible,” Zersen said. The treatment will begin shipping in the coming weeks based on individual state approvals.
The impact of the CPMA will vary by dog, but, Zersen said, “[O]verall, the treatment makes for less time, less worry, and less labor, helping dogs to feel better faster.”
That’s a welcome development when you consider how parvo has been treated in the past. “Traditional parvovirus treatments can consist of 24/7 care, three to five days of hospitalization, high pet owner costs and emotional stress, with no guaranteed outcome,” she said. “CPMA offers a targeted solution. Dogs are treated with one intravenous dose that’s highly effective and proven to decrease mortality and may provide faster resolution of the symptoms of this potentially deadly disease.”
When we talk about parvo, we also need to discuss transmission—and that’s something the study investigated as well.
“In the treatment efficacy study, dogs were tested for canine parvovirus shed in their feces,” Zersen said. “While additional work needs to be done to quantify the shedding, preliminary data shows dogs treated with the CPMA had obvious reductions in the amount of canine parvovirus shed in their feces within two days after treatment. A reduction of canine parvovirus in the feces would mean less canine parvovirus overall in the environment to infect other dogs.” Considering how contagious parvo is—and the impact that level of contagion has had in veterinary or shelter environments—that’s an exciting development.
This isn’t only excellent news for the dogs affected and the owners who love them, but for veterinary teams as well, said Berlin. “To have just a bit more hope that we might be able to save these dogs is huge,” she said. “Our teams will benefit, as will our patients.”
Zersen agrees. “Parvovirus is one of the most difficult and frustrating diseases that veterinary teams treat. Veterinarians and technicians spend so much time with these puppies, providing 24/7 care, including feedings, providing medications, and keeping them clean and warm. The entire veterinary team can become very attached to these puppies and care deeply about their wellbeing, so it is devastating to the team when a puppy dies,” she said. “But the CPMA solves many of the key challenges veterinary teams face when treating parvovirus as it may shorten the course of this unpredictable disease, improve outcomes, and may help get the puppy home more quickly to reduce the toll on everyone.”
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Disclaimer: The views expressed, and topics discussed, in any NEWStat column or article are intended to inform, educate, or entertain, and do not represent an official position by the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) or its Board of Directors.