Thamesweb Logo Thames Logo


Florida Researchers Confirm West Nile Vaccine Used In Swans
Highly Successful

Titre tests conducted on blood samples taken from English Mute Swans confirm the results

Index to The Regal Swan Project

 Swan, Orange Lake

An English Mute Swan at Orange Lake Resort & Country
Club in Orlando, Florida. Photo by Rebecca Webb Wilson. © 2003.
All rights reserved.

Contact: Shirley Bolin

ORLANDO, Florida. Six Florida researchers confirmed today, that a vaccine for West Nile Virus has been used successfully in six English Mute Swans at Orange Lake Resort & Country Club in Orlando, Florida. Titre tests conducted on blood samples taken from the swans show a sustained level of antibody response following vaccination with Fort Dodge Animal Health's West Nile Virus equine vaccine. The group's research provides the first real hope that a vaccine against the deadly West Nile Virus can protect the world's largest waterfowl and those birds in private collections such as zoos.     The three-month long scientific study was conducted by The Regal Swan™, a Florida based group. The vaccine was injected into the swans and produced no detrimental side effects or deaths in the inoculated swans. Using the Fort Dodge Animal Health's West Nile Virus vaccine in the swans still remains as an off-label application. Prior to the research, no proven vaccine existed for protection against the West Nile Virus in swans.
    Each year the virus affects more than 130 species of birds. Hundreds of predatory and migratory birds are killed during these outbreaks. In addition to birds other wildlife and humans are infected by the disease. In 2002, the West Nile Virus claimed the lives of more than 280 people in 44 states and infected more than 4,100 people. Last year's outbreak was the largest since the virus first appeared in the Western Hemisphere in 1999.

Vaccinating a swan

Dr. Christopher W. Brown and Kathleen Sterling vaccinating a swan.
Photo by Shirley A. Bolin. © 2003. All rights reserved.

In June, U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson warned of the potential for another deadly outbreak this summer due to heavy spring rains across the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, Georgia, all 50 states are expected to be affected this year by the disease which is carried by mosquitoes. Until the Florida group's research, no titer testing existed in swans and the scientific investigation into the swans' antibody response to the vaccine had not been documented. Initial vaccination protocols were set by Dr. Christopher W. Brown, a Central Florida relief veterinarian, and Dr. Geoffrey R. Gardner, a Lakeland, Florida veterinarian.
    The vaccination and titre testing for Fort Dodge's West Nile Virus vaccine was conducted exclusively at Orange Lake Resort & Country Club in Orlando, Florida. Orange Lake is the largest single site timeshare in the world. It was founded in 1982 by the late Kemmons Wilson, the founder of Holiday Inn®.

   The Regal SwanTM researchers are: Christopher W. Brown, D.V.M., Central Florida relief veterinarian, Orlando, Florida; Geoffrey R. Gardner, D.V.M., Lakeland Veterinary Hospital, Lakeland, Florida; Fanchon F. Funk, Ed.D., associate professor, Florida State University, Tallahassee, Florida; Sheila A. Bolin, M.S., swan keeper, Orange Lake Resort & Country Club, Orlando, Florida; Rebecca Webb Wilson, J.D., professional photographer and lifetime trustee of the Memphis Zoological Society, Memphis, Tennessee; and Shirley A. Bolin, A.G.S., head photographer and staff writer, Orange Lake Resort & Country Club, Orlando, Florida.

The staff

The Research Team:
From left to right, Shirley A. Bolin, Dr. Christopher W. Brown, Sheila A. Bolin,
Dr. Geoffrey R. Gardner, Dr. Fanchon F. Funk and Rebecca Webb Wilson.

    Additionally, the six-team members compiled crucial information on worldwide swan mortality through the efforts of Roger Cullingham of
The Royal Windsor Web Site byThamesweb, Windsor, England; Her Majesty's Swan Warden, Dr. Christopher Perrins, director of The Earl Grey Institute of Ornithology, Oxford University, London, England; Her Majesty's Swan Marker, David Barber; Dorothy Beeson, founder, The Swan Sanctuary, Egham, England; Steve Knight, trustee, The Swan Sanctuary, Egham, England; Martin Brown, animal health officer, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Fund, Slimbridge, England; Dr. Vladimir Spitsin, director of the Moscow Zoo, Moscow, Russia;
    Sergei Popov, head of research at the Moscow Zoo, Moscow, Russia; and Dr. Nikolai Puchkov, The Russian Academy of Sciences, Moscow, Russia.

For more information on The Regal Swan™, please go to: The Regal Swan on The Royal Windsor Web Site or The Regal

The Regal Swan™ Sponsors include:

    Orange Lake Resort & Country Club, City of Lakeland, Florida, Lakeland Veterinary Hospital, Pfizer Animal Health, Antech Diagnostic Labs, Inc., American Camper, Blitz® USA, Bushnell Sports Optics Worldwide, Cobra Electronics, Hunt Manufacturing Company, Kaz Incorporated, Lab Essentials, Inc., The National High Magnetic Laboratory, Florida State University; The Memphis Zoo, Orlando Science Center, by Thamesweb, Windsor, England; Sharn Veterinary, Inc., The Sports Authority, Timex®, VetCare,Vicks Company, IQ Scientific Instruments and Western Pest Services.

Contact: Shirley Bolin. E-mail:


Index to The Regal Swan Project

The Royal Windsor Home Page

To contact us, email Thamesweb.