Advances in search for dengue fever vaccine announced

Researchers recently announced promising advances in the treatment of dengue fever, which kills an estimated 25,000 people every year.

"We have some very exciting leads on different types of vaccines that are in various stages of clinical trial that hopefully can be implemented with a reasonable period of time," Anthony Fauci said, according to AFP. Fauci is the director of the infectious diseases division of the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

Regional researchers recently met in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to discuss treatments for dengue fever, a mosquito borne illness that is transmitted by the female Aedes mosquito, according to AFP.

Dengue has reemerged as a major public health threat in tropical regions in the last few years. It causes flu-like symptoms for the majority of its victims. Out of four strains, one is quite lethal.

In Latin America last year, over a thousand people reportedly died from dengue fever. Puerto Rico alone recorded 21,000 cases of the disease, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In Key West, Florida, there were 69 cases as the disease hit there for the first time in decades.

Harold Margolis, the director of the dengue center for the CDC, is hopeful a vaccine will soon be made available.

"There's been tremendous progress," Margolis said, according to AFP. "There are a number of vaccines that are now in clinical trials and there's now very exciting information there, so we are finally getting (into the last process) but it can take a while.

"The important factor is how good our surveillance is to pick up the disease. I think right now we know where it is and now we need to be creative with the new tools and research to try to make sure that doesn't go any further."

The infectious diseases division of the NIH spent $45 million last year in its effort to stop dengue fever. It spent $5 million in 2000.

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