Born in Tucson — A Valley Fever Vaccine for Dogs

Valley Fever is something you know about if you live in Arizona. If you came from the Midwest or the East Coast, you may not have learned about it until you were already here. While some parts of California, West Texas, Nevada, and Utah deal with Valley Fever, Arizona seems to have been dealt the shortest stick. In some Arizona counties, 1 in 10 dogs develops the disease each year. Some say it is the number one reason dogs are surrendered to animal control due to the costs to treat.
 
But there is something on the horizon that can change all of this… enter the new vaccine candidate developed right here in Arizona by the Valley Fever Center for Excellence at the U of A College of Medicine. 

The vaccine uses a version of one of the fungi responsible for the infection, from which a gene that controls virulence has been deleted. Working with researchers at other universities and a biotech startup in California, the team inoculated dogs with a solution containing live spores from the altered fungus. They found a two-dose regimen was safe and protected dogs against developing disease when they were exposed to wild fungus in the lab. The group is now working on scaling the small-batch prototype developed to produce a shelf-stable formula that can be commercialized for use in dogs. They will then submit it to the USDA for conditional approval, in hopes of distribution in 2023.