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West Nile virus arrived in North America in 1999 and has spread across the continent in the ensuing years. The virus has proven deadly to a variety of native avian species including sandhill cranes (Grus canadensis). In order to provide safe and efficacious protection for captive and released populations of whooping cranes (G. americana), we have conducted a series of four research projects. The last of these was a study of the effects of two different West Nile virus vaccines on young Florida sandhill crane (G. c. pratensis) chicks and subsequent challenge with the virus. We found that vaccinating crane chicks as early as day 7 post-hatch caused no adverse reactions or noticeable morbidity. We tested both a commercial equine vaccine West Nile - Innovator (Fort Dodge Laboratories, Fort Dodge, Iowa) and a new recombinant DNA vaccine (Centers for Disease Control). We had a 33% mortality in control chicks (n =6) from West Nile virus infection, versus 0% mortality in two groups of vaccinated chicks (n = 12), indicating the two vaccines tested were not only safe but effective in preventing West Nile virus.
Additional Publication Details
Safety of West Nile Virus vaccines in sandhill crane chicks