Progress in Combatting West Nile Virus

US - Researchers have come up with a successful way to vaccinate chickens against West Nile virus (WNV).
calendar icon 1 March 2010
clock icon 3 minute read

C.A. Fassbinder-Orth of Creighton University and co-authors have published a paper in the latest issue of Avian Diseases, reporting their results on oral and parenteral immunisation of chickens against WNV with recombinant envelope protein.

West Nile virus (WNV) causes morbidity and mortality in humans, horses, and in more than 315 bird species in North America. Currently approved WNV vaccines are designed for parenteral administration and, as yet, no effective oral WNV vaccines have been developed.

WNV envelope (E) protein is a highly antigenic protein that elicits the majority of virus-neutralising antibodies during a WNV immune response, according to the researchers.

They gave Leghorn chickens three vaccinations (each two weeks apart) of E protein orally (20 µg or 100 µg/dose), of E protein intramuscularly (IM, 20 µg/dose), or of adjuvant only (control group) followed by a WNV challenge.

Viraemias were measured post-WNV infection, and three new enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays were developed for quantifying IgM, IgY, and IgA-mediated immune response of birds following WNV infection.

WNV viraemia levels were significantly lower in the IM group than in both oral groups and the control group. Total WNV E protein-specific IgY production was significantly greater, and WNV non-structural 1-specific IgY was significantly less, in the IM group compared to all other treatment groups.

The group concluded their results indicate that IM vaccination of chickens with E protein is protective against WNV infection and results in a significantly different antibody production profile as compared to both orally vaccinated and non-vaccinated birds.


Fassbinder-Orth C.A., E.K. Hofmeister, C. Weeks-Levy and W.H. Karasov. 2009. Oral and parenteral immunization of chickens (Gallus gallus) against West Nile virus with recombinant envelope protein. Avian Diseases 53 (4): 502–509. doi: 10.1637/8688-031009-Reg.1.

Further Reading

- You can view the full report (fee payable) by clicking here.
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