NIAID testing chikungunya fever vaccine

An experimental vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever is being tested for safety and efficacy by researchers at the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

The vaccine, developed by scientists at the NIAID Vaccine Research Center, was created using non-infectious virus-like particles to prompt an immune response. The testing calls for 25 healthy adults between the ages of 18 and 50 years old, according to

Chikungunya, a viral disease spread by mosquitoes, is generally not considered fatal, but can cause debilitating symptoms, such as fever headaches and joint pain. Symptoms usually subside in a matter of a few weeks, but it is not unheard of for them to continue for months.

The first cases of the illness were reported in east Africa in the 1950s. It is now considered endemic throughout much of the continent, as well as in parts of Asia. India has reported frequent outbreaks that have impacted public health significantly. A single outbreak in 2006 lasted eight months and resulted in 1.25 million suspected cases.

A 2007 outbreak in Italy prompted concerns that chikungunya may be able to establish itself outside of the tropics and pose a greater threat worldwide than previously thought.

“A vaccine to prevent chikungunya fever, an emerging global health concern, would address an important need,” NIAID Director Dr. Anthony S. Fauci said, reports. “If successful, this approach also might be used to develop vaccines against related mosquito-borne viruses, including those that cause Western, Eastern and Venezuelan equine encephalitis.”