August 15th, 2014 (VOA & InsideCostaRica.com) Researchers are testing an experimental vaccine for the Chikungunya virus.
The virus is transmitted through infected female mosquitoes that bite during the day. The mosquitos also transmit other viral diseases including Dengue fever.
In fact, the symptoms of chikungunya – including fever, rash, headache and severe joint pain – are often mistaken for dengue, another tropical illness that causes severe aches and pains and a high fever.
Working to develop a vaccine against chikungunya – which the WHO says has reached epidemic proportions – researchers used a virus-like particle, rather than the killed or weakened virus used in traditional vaccines. The experimental drug contained outer surface proteins taken from a West African strain of chikungunya, without the genetic material that causes infection. It stimulated a robust antibody response in the majority of the 25 healthy, young American volunteers in the initial trial. The candidate vaccine was reportedly well-tolerated. Antibody response was seen even at the lowest doses.
More clinical trials and regulatory approval are needed before the vaccine becomes available.
In July, a French tourist became the first person to contract chikungunya in Costa Rica. There have been several additional cases since.
An article on human trials of the experimental chikungunya vaccine is published in the journal The Lancet.