New Needle-less Vaccine for Feline Leukemia Virus

Feline leukemia virus (FeLV) is regarded as the most serious infection known to affect cats. It is a highly contagious viral infection transmitted from cat to cat by blood and saliva. FeLV and rabies vaccinations have both been implicated in the deadly vaccine associated sarcoma (VAS) disease. The adjuvants in these vaccines have been suggested to be the culprit It is estimated that from 1 in 10,000 to 1 in 1,000 cats are affected.

A new vaccine has been developed by Merial called Purevax® Recombinant FeLV Vaccine which is a non-adjuvanted vaccine and is administered by the transdermal route! No shots, no needles!

The initial vaccine protocol is for the first dose to be administered at 9 weeks and a second dose 3 weeks later. The dose required is 0.25 mL which is much less than the traditional 1.0 mL dosage. A booster vaccination is recommended annually.

The vaccine is administered with a VETJET ™ Transdermal Vaccination System that has been designed for cats and consists of an air-pressure system. To use the system, no preparation of skin is necessary. The recommended site is the skin over the lateral thigh. The applicator is held against the cats' leg and on activation, the entire dose is administered in less than 0.3 seconds. Because of the high pressure, it is considered to be injected through the equivalent of a very small 34 to 36 gauge needle. The vaccine is deposited into the skin which actually increases the amount of vaccine antigen taken up and processed by the body as compared to subcutaneous injections.

This vaccine is a new and interesting alternative to the traditional feline leukemia vaccines. The hope is that this non-adjuvanted vaccine will give the protection and prevent the incidence of the serious associated adverse vaccine reactions.

Source: Lecture at the 2005 Western Veterinary Conference by Dr. Richard B. Ford, Professor of Medicine, North Carolina State University.