As the science of farming continues to emerge as the difference maker in seasonal yields, cattle farmers will soon be able to protect themselves from a deadly pathogen that can rip through herds thanks to Apiam Animal Health (ASX: AHX) which has secured regulatory approval for a new vaccine.
The vaccine has been developed through Apiam’s vaccine research and manufacturing business, ACE Laboratories, which they acquired in 2019 and will assist in preventing disease caused by Histophilus somni – a misunderstood bacterial pathogen that can cause high levels of mortality and morbidity in intensively raised cattle.
Following a stringent assessment process, the Histophilus somni vaccine permit has now received approval from regulatory body, the Australian Pesticides and Veterinary Medicines Authority (APVMA) for manufacturing and administration. It is also the third custom vaccine that has been commercialised by Apiam in the last 12 months, as an effective method for farmers to prevent disease outbreaks and potential antibiotic resistance issues on farms.
“It has been one of Apiam’s key business goals to develop unique vaccine solutions for the pig, poultry, beef and dairy industries where commercial vaccines don’t exist or are starting to fail, and demand for alternatives to traditional antibiotic use continue to grow rapidly,” said Apiam Managing Director, Dr Chris Richards.
“In a step change for industry, we expect that this will result in even higher vaccine efficacy delivering better animal health outcomes.
“Being able to develop and manufacture these technologies locally at our Bendigo facility is what makes custom vaccines so valuable to our domestic livestock industries, especially when we are seeing antigenic drift on Australian farms as well as lack of effectiveness of some imported commercial vaccines.”
The Histophilus somni bacteria can be ‘activated‘ in cattle where it invades blood vessels and organs causing local vascular damage and interruption of blood supply. The exact cause as to what activates the bacteria is largely unknown but once it occurs, it can lead to septicemia (blood infections), and when the spinal cord and brain are affected, brain damage.
Other reactions caused by Histophilus also include heart failure, in addition to spreading to the joints resulting in joint infections.
Having secured regulatory approval for this new permit vaccine, Apiam will commence introducing it to their feedlot farm clients where a risk has been identified.
While Apiam has been growing rapidly over the past 12 months via vet clinic acquisitions, they remain the largest regional animal health provider where cattle and dairy farms are the cornerstone of their clientele.
As the veterinarian of some of Australia’s largest beef feedlots, Dr Tony Batterham has seen the devastating impact of Histophilus once it enters a cattle herd and starts tearing it apart.
“I’ve seen a few cases where this bacterium suddenly flares up, usually when other bacteria and viruses are involved,” said Dr Batterham.
“From these initial respiratory infections, Histophilus can transport itself to multiple other locations and cause further debilitating disease.
“We currently use antibiotics to treat affected animals, but with this new vaccine opportunity, we see a real opportunity to be able to reduce their use and improve antimicrobial stewardship programs, which is a key focus for our Company.”
In August 2021, the Global Leaders Group on Antimicrobial Resistance, an interagency group comprising experts from all over the world, called for a significant reduction in the use of antimicrobial drugs in global food systems. This came in response to alarming use of antimicrobial drugs in livestock. With calls for their reduction, industry operators are taking a leadership role to use alternatives such as custom vaccines such as those being developed by Apiam.
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