FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 30, 2016

New vaccine may protect bird species from West Nile virus

A vaccine recently developed by University of British Columbia researchers shows promise in protecting common and endangered bird species from the West Nile virus.

West Nile virus is endemic across Northern America. The mosquito-borne virus arrived in 1999 and has claimed the lives of hundreds of people.

The virus also seriously threatens bird species, resulting in a mortality rate of 100% in some bird populations. There is currently no effective vaccine against the WNV available on the market for either humans or birds.

"West Nile virus has been identified as a threat contributing to the extinction of some rare bird species and its presence in common birds facilitates the spread of the disease," Joanne Young, University of British Columbia researcher and lead author of the study, said. "A bird vaccine would go a long way to helping combat these adverse effects."

The study, conducted by Young and Prof. Wilfred Jefferies, was published in the PLOS ONE journal. In the study, the researchers created a vaccine derived from WNV and found that it induces an immune response in birds, which may help control the spread of disease in birds and other species. Further research is currently being conducted to study the vaccine's efficacy.