The use of antiviral drugs in veterinary medicine

  • A. De Vleeschauwer
  • D. Lefebvre
  • K. De Clercq


There is an increasing interest in the use of antiviral agents for the treatment of viral infections in animals. To date, the veterinary clinical use of antiviral drugs has mainly been limited to the application of drugs developed for humans in companion animals. However, the research and development of antiviral drugs against specific animal viruses are ongoing. The interest in the use of antiviral drugs is also growing in livestock farming, where viral infections often have a high economic and social impact. The development of drugs for food-producing animals in particular requires thorough knowledge of the pharmacokinetics and (eco) toxicity, for determining maximum residue limits (MRLs) and withdrawal periods. Experience gained from human medicine shows that the therapeutic efficacy of antiviral drugs may decrease with the emergence of less sensitive (resistant) virus variants. Therefore, the development of drugs with a high barrier to antiviral resistance, and especially for mass application in veterinary medicine, is very important. There are only a few studies on the efficacy of (human) antiviral drugs against animal viruses, and clinical trials are usually limited to efficacy and toxicity. There is a lack of scientific data on the dosage and risk of resistance development of antiviral products in animals. Control of viral diseases by means of an antiviral therapy appears to be attractive for multiple reasons, but a lot of research is required to achieve an appropriate practical application. This article provides a brief introduction on the development of antiviral resistance, and gives an overview of the literature on antiviral treatment options for the most common viral diseases in domestic animals, with specific attention to the available data on antiviral resistance development.

How to Cite:

De Vleeschauwer, A. & Lefebvre, D. & De Clercq, K., (2012) “The use of antiviral drugs in veterinary medicine”, Vlaams Diergeneeskundig Tijdschrift 81(5), 255-265. doi:

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Published on
30 Oct 2012
Peer Reviewed