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Equine West Nile Vaccine Available, Little Demand For Human Vaccine

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(credit: KTVT/KTXA) Jason Allen
Jason came to North Texas after working as a reporter for four y...
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TARRANT COUNTY (CBS 11 NEWS) – There is a vaccine for West Nile virus. Humans don’t have the drug—but horses do.

On a Tarrant County lot, there is plenty of water out and probably mosquitoes, but the owner of the horses there is not worried because they are all vaccinated. It is a protection humans do not have because CBS 11 News has learned most of the advanced work for that vaccine has stopped.

Among a fridge full of vaccines, it is a sign for one on the counter that stands out right now at Grapevine’s Master Made Feeds–West Nile vaccine.

“It’s already mixed up and in the syringe, and handy, consumer friendly,” says Master Made owner Mitch Waters.

Waters says, without question, it has been a popular product this summer for horse owners. The cost to keep the potentially deadly virus away is just 29-dollars.

“Not much compared to losing one, or the vets may charge more than that for it,” Waters said.

Equine Veterinarian Jen Voelinger said it is part of her core vaccine schedule for horses now, and 94 percent effective. In the 10 years since the vaccine has been available, West Nile cases in Texas horses dropped from nearly 1700 to just fourteen so far this year.

“We’ve been vaccinating so heavily the last several years that we just don’t see it very often anymore,” Voelinger said.

The Centers for Disease Control says when it comes to a human vaccine, “many scientists are working on this issue.” We found they may not be anymore.

Sanofi Pasteur, one of the largest vaccine companies in the world had a vaccine in phase two trials, but a spokesman told CBS 11 News it is on the back burner now because of limited resources.

Biotech company Crucell made progress five years ago. A website update, though, said commercial opportunities for west nile products are not as attractive as other products.

Even at epidemic proportions, there is still little demand for a drug that can keep away a deadly illness.

There have only been four horses diagnosed with West Nile this summer in North Texas, two in Dallas County and two in Collin County.

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