Efficacy of three vaccines in protecting Western Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma californica) from experimental infection with West Nile virus: Implications for vaccination of Island Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma insularis)

Sarah S. Wheeler, Stanley Langevin, Leslie Woods, Brian D. Carroll, Winston Vickers, Scott A. Morrison, Gwong Jen J Chang, William Reisen, Walter M Boyce

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

19 Scopus citations

Abstract

The devastating effect of West Nile virus (WNV) on the avifauna of North America has led zoo managers and conservationists to attempt to protect vulnerable species through vaccination. The Island Scrub-Jay (Aphelocoma insularis) is one such species, being a corvid with a highly restricted insular range. Herein, we used congeneric Western Scrub-Jays (Aphelocoma californica) to test the efficacy of three WNV vaccines in protecting jays from an experimental challenge with WNV: (1) the Fort Dodge West Nile-Innovator® DNA equine vaccine, (2) an experimental DNA plasmid vaccine, pCBWN, and (3) the Merial Recombitek® equine vaccine. Vaccine efficacy after challenge was compared with naïve and nonvaccinated positive controls and a group of naturally immune jays. Overall, vaccination lowered peak viremia compared with nonvaccinated positive controls, but some WNV-related pathology persisted and the viremia was sufficient to possibly infect susceptible vector mosquitoes. The Fort Dodge West Nile-Innovator DNA equine vaccine and the pCBWN vaccine provided humoral immune priming and limited side effects. Five of the six birds vaccinated with the Merial Recombitek vaccine, including a vaccinated, non-WNV challenged control, developed extensive necrotic lesions in the pectoral muscle at the vaccine inoculation sites, which were attributed to the Merial vaccine. In light of the well-documented devastating effects of high morbidity and mortality associated with WNV infection in corvids, vaccination of Island Scrub-Jays with either the Fort Dodge West Nile-Innovator DNA vaccine or the pCBWN vaccine may increase the numbers of birds that would survive an epizootic should WNV become established on Santa Cruz Island.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1069-1080
Number of pages12
JournalVector-Borne and Zoonotic Diseases
Volume11
Issue number8
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 1 2011

Keywords

  • Aphelocoma
  • Conservation
  • Corvid
  • island
  • Vaccination
  • West Nile virus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases
  • Microbiology
  • Virology

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