The whooping crane (Grus americana), although never abundant in North America, became endangered primarily because of habitat modification and destruction. To help recovery, a captive propagation and reintroduction program was initiated at the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center (PWRC) in 1966. However, in 1984, 7 of 39 whooping cranes at PWRC died from infection by eastern equine encephalitis (EEE) virus, an arbovirus that infects a wide variety of indigenous bird species, although mortality is generally restricted to introduced birds. Following identification of the aetiological agent, surveillance and control measures were implemented, including serological monitoring of both wild and captive birds for EEE viral antibody and assay of locally-trapped mosquitoes for virus. In addition, an inactivated EEE virus vaccine developed for use in humans was evaluated in captive whooping cranes. Results so far suggest that the vaccine will afford protection to susceptible birds.
Additional publication details
The impact of eastern equine encephalitis virus on efforts to recover the endangered whooping crane