SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 25, 2016

Chikungunya virus antibodies developed

The chikungunya virus
Researchers from Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center and Vaccine Center in Tennessee recently announced that they have developed the first large panel of antibody treatments against chikungunya virus, which is spread through bites from infected mosquitoes.

The Caribbean reported its first case of chikungunya in 2013. Since then, there have been approximately 1.2 million chikungunya cases throughout 44 different territories or countries, with 177 cases occurring in 31 U.S. states.

"It's frustrating, because the outbreak is ongoing now," Dr. James Crowe, who led the Vanderbilt research team, said. "I wish we had the drug ready to test in humans now, but you need to be careful and prepare these materials correctly. It takes a long time to manufacture and test and prove that materials are safe for humans."

Chikungunya virus causes a flu-like illness, including fever, headaches and long-lasting joint pain. The virus spreads through a domino effect from infected mosquitoes to people, who then pass it on to other mosquitoes to continue the cycle. 

"There are about 1 million people who travel to the Caribbean and back in the U.S. each year," Crowe said. "If you go to Haiti on a mission trip, there's a very high chance you'll be infected with chikungunya if you are in an infected area. There are at least 30 organizations in Nashville [Tennessee] that do development or mission work in Haiti, so while mosquitoes may only travel 50 to 100 feet their entire lives, there are a high number of people going back and forth between the U.S and the Caribbean. We talk to groups who have a dozen people down there, and 10 come back infected."

Organizations in this story

Vanderbilt University School of Medicine Nashville, TN 37212

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