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Escribano-Romero E.,Institute Nacional Of Investigacion Agraria | Gamino V.,Institute Investigacion en Recursos Cinegeticos | Merino-Ramos T.,Institute Nacional Of Investigacion Agraria | Blazquez A.B.,Institute Nacional Of Investigacion Agraria | And 6 more authors.

West Nile virus (WNV) is maintained in nature in an enzootic transmission cycle between birds and mosquitoes, although it occasionally infects other vertebrates, including humans, in which it may result fatal. To date, no licensed vaccines against WNV infection are available for birds, but its availability would certainly benefit certain populations, as birds grown for restocking, hunting activities, or alimentary purposes, and those confined to wildlife reservations and recreation installations. We have tested the protective capability of WNV envelope recombinant (rE) protein in red-legged partridges (Alectoris rufa). Birds (n=28) were intramuscularly immunized three times at 2-weeks interval with rE and a control group (n=29) was sham-immunized. Except for 5 sham-immunized birds that were not infected and housed as contact controls, partridges were subcutaneously challenged with WNV. Oropharyngeal and cloacal swabs and feather pulps were collected at several days after infection and blood samples were taken during vaccination and after infection. All rE-vaccinated partridges elicited anti-WNV antibodies before challenge and survived to the infection, while 33.3% of the sham-immunized birds succumbed, as did 25% of the contact animals. Most (84%) unvaccinated birds showed viremia 3 d.p.i., but virus was only detected in 14% of the rE vaccinated birds. WNV-RNA was detected in feathers and swabs from sham-immunized partridges from 3 to 7 d.p.i., mainly in birds that succumbed to the infection, but not in rE vaccinated birds. Thus, rE vaccination fully protected partridges against WND and reduced the risk of virus spread. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd. Source

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