Immunization with heterologous flaviviruses protective against fatal West Nile encephalitis

Emerg Infect Dis. 2002 Mar;8(3):245-51. doi: 10.3201/eid0803.010238.


Prior immunization of hamsters with three heterologous flaviviruses (Japanese encephalitis virus [JEV] SA14-2-8 vaccine, wild-type St. Louis encephalitis virus [SLEV], and Yellow fever virus [YFV] 17D vaccine) reduces the severity of subsequent West Nile virus (WNV) infection. Groups of adult hamsters were immunized with each of the heterologous flaviviruses; approximately 30 days later, the animals were injected intraperitoneally with a virulent New York strain of WNV. Subsequent levels of viremia, antibody response, and deaths were compared with those in nonimmune (control) hamsters. Immunity to JEV and SLEV was protective against clinical encephalitis and death after challenge with WNV. The antibody response in the sequentially infected hamsters also illustrates the difficulty in making a serologic diagnosis of WNV infection in animals (or humans) with preexisting Flavivirus immunity.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antibody Formation
  • Cricetinae
  • Encephalitis Virus, Japanese / immunology
  • Encephalitis Virus, St. Louis / immunology
  • Flavivirus / immunology*
  • West Nile Fever / immunology*
  • West Nile virus / immunology*


  • Antibodies, Viral