The year 2020 will go down in the books as the first year of active spread of the West Nile virus in the Netherlands. Now it remains to be seen whether the virus survives the winter. If necessary, there are at least a few concept vaccines ready on the shelf. Partly thanks to monkeys from BPRC.
We know mosquitoes as spreaders of diseases such as malaria and dengue fever. This concerns tropical mosquito species. But did you know that our own common mosquitoes can also transmit diseases? The West Nile virus spreads via birds and the European mosquito is responsible for transmission. Including those annoying biters in the backyard during a sultry summer evening.
West Nile virus can cause inflammation in the brain
West Nile virus infections usually go unnoticed, but sometimes serious complications occur. A bite from an infected mosquito leads to inflammation in the brain in about one in a hundred people. These patients either need long-term medical care or die.
Scientists foresaw early on that the West Nile virus may have major social and medical consequences in the future. That is why the European Union made money available for research into spread, diagnostics and vaccines. BPRC was part of one of these international research groups. We examined two experimental vaccines for efficacy in rhesus monkeys. Both vaccines protected against the virus. Europe thus took a major step forward in its preparation against the arrival of the West Nile virus.
The results of the vaccine research were published in a free scientific journal in 2014 and can be read here.