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Equine Vet J. 2007 Nov;39(6):486-90.

Safety of an attenuated West Nile virus vaccine, live Flavivirus chimera in horses.

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  • 1College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Florida, 2015 SW 16th Ave., Gainesville, Florida, USA.



West Nile virus (WNV) infection is endemic and able to cause disease in naive hosts. It is necessary therefore to evaluate the safety of new vaccines.


To establish: 1) the safety of a modified live Flavivirus/West Nile virus (WN-FV) chimera by administration of an overdose and testing for shed of vaccine virus and spread to uninoculated sentinel horses; 2) that this vaccine did not become pathogenic once passaged in horses; and 3) vaccine safety under field conditions.


There were 3 protocols: 1) In the overdose/shed and spread study, horses were vaccinated with a 100x immunogenicity overdose of WN-FV chimera vaccine and housed with sentinel horses. 2) A reversion to virulence study, where horses were vaccinated with a 20x immunogenicity overdose of WN-FV chimera vaccine. Horses in both studies were evaluated for abnormal health conditions and samples obtained to detect virus, seroconversion and dissemination into tissues. 3) In a field safety test 919 healthy horses of various ages, breeds and sex were used.


Vaccination did not result in site or systemic reactions in either experimental or field-injected horses. There was no shed of vaccine virus, no detection of vaccine virus into tissue and no reversion to virulence with passage.


WN-FV chimera vaccine is safe to use in horses with no evidence of ill effects from very high doses of vaccine. There was no evidence of reversion to virulence. In addition, administration of this vaccine to several hundred horses that may have been previously exposed to WNV or WNV vaccine resulted in no untoward reactions.


These studies establish that this live attenuated Flavivirus chimera is safe to use for immunoprophylaxis against WNV disease in horses.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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