In 2002, West Nile virus (WNV) infection with clinical neurologic disease and encephalomyelitis was described in reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). The susceptibility of reindeer to WNV prompted questions concerning vaccination of reindeer to prevent WNV infection. Between January and April 2003, eleven 2–4-yr-old, castrated male reindeer, some of which had antibody titers suggestive of prior exposure to WNV, were vaccinated three times at 4-wk intervals with a commercially available vaccine approved for use in horses. No adverse reactions to vaccination were noted. All vaccinated reindeer developed high neutralizing antibody titers to WNV, as determined by the plaque reduction neutralization test. Reindeer without antibody titers from previous natural exposure to WNV required a primary vaccination and one or two booster vaccinations for development of neutralizing antibody to WNV. Protective efficacy of vaccination was not evaluated. Vaccination of reindeer for WNV may be warranted in certain circumstances combined with management practices to limit exposure to potential vectors.
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Vol. 40 • No. 4