The researchers said they developed the hybrid virus vaccine by replacing parts of a distantly related virus with proteins from the West Nile virus. The research will be published in the September issue of the journal Virology.
NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci told Science Daily magazine: "West Nile is one of the emerging infectious diseases for which we are developing novel preventive and therapeutic tactics. Because our researchers have more than a decade of experience working with this class of virus, they could respond very quickly to the urgent public health need for a promising West Nile virus vaccine."
Human clinical trials of the vaccine are expected to begin before the end of the year.
West Nile virus is spread to people by mosquitoes. It usually produces mild, flu-like symptoms but can cause a deadly encephalitis, or inflammation of the brain. The virus was first detected in the United States in 1999.