March 04, 2015

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica Inc. Granted Conditional License for Equine Pigeon Fever Vaccine*

New vaccine will help horse owners and veterinarians fight a debilitating disease

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. announced today that the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) has granted a conditionally licensed vaccine for Corynbebacterium 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,” says 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 has never appeared before,” he adds. “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 percent 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 veterinarian 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

About Boehringer Ingelheim

Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc., (BIVI) is a leader in the animal health industry with its portfolio of innovative vaccine and pharmaceutical solutions for the prevention and treatment of disease within the swine, cattle, equine and pet markets. BIVI is the U.S. division of the global Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health GmbH. Our U.S. headquarters are located within the KC Animal Health Corridor in St. Joseph, Mo., with other sites in Ames, Fort Dodge and Sioux Center, Iowa.

The Boehringer Ingelheim group is one of the world’s 20 leading pharmaceutical companies. Headquartered in Ingelheim, Germany, it operates globally with 142 affiliates and more than 47,400 employees. Since it was founded in 1885, the family-owned company has been committed to researching, developing, manufacturing and marketing new medications of high therapeutic value for human and veterinary medicine.

Social responsibility is a central element of Boehringer Ingelheim’s culture. Involvement in social projects, caring for the employees and their families and providing equal opportunities for all employees form the foundation of the global operations. Mutual cooperation and respect, as well as environmental protection and sustainability are intrinsic factors of all Boehringer Ingelheim’s endeavors.

With nearly 3,000 employees worldwide, Boehringer Ingelheim Animal Health achieved net sales of about $1.46 billion (1.07 billion euros) in 2013. In our research-driven Animal Health business, Boehringer Ingelheim continually invests more than 10% of net sales of the Animal Health business in R&D.

* This product license is conditional. Efficacy and potency studies are in progress.