Good Question: There's West Nile Vaccine For Horses, Why Not Humans?

By: Jeff Herndon Email
By: Jeff Herndon Email

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Thursday, August 23, 2012

West Nile virus is booming. Heath officials say there are 3 times as many cased this year compared to last.

There is a West Nile vaccine for horses. KAKE viewer Jemelle asks if there is a vaccine for horses, why isn’t there one for humans?

Good question.

U.S. health officials say there’s been an alarming increase in the number of West Nile cases. So far, there have been more than 1,100 cases reported through the middle of August. That’s 3 times as many as usually seen at this point in the year.

One reason for the increase: mild winter, early spring and very hot summer have fostered breeding of the mosquitoes.

Mosquitoes pick up the virus from birds and then spread it to people. West Nile can be deadly. Horses are at high risk, but there is a vaccine for them. But there is no vaccine for humans. Why?

The CDC says the vaccine has not been studied in humans yet. West Nile is fairly new to the U.S. The first case was reported in 1999. The CDC says veterinary vaccines are not made with the same quality standards required of human vaccines.

Animal vaccines are not required to undergo the extensive field testing required of human vaccines before they are licensed. For these reasons, veterinary vaccines and other veterinary drugs should never be used in humans.

The CDC also says that, while a vaccine does not exist for humans yet, scientists are working on the issue. There is hope a vaccine will become available in the next few years.

If you have a good question, send it to me at or find me on Twitter at I’ll answer your good question every Thursday on KAKE News at 10.

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