Jul 13, 2015

Chikungunya Virus: Are We Closer to a Vaccine?


By on 10:14 AM

As the summer progresses and over 40 species of mosquitoes take "residence" in Florida, the Chikungunya virus (CHIKV), which originated in the Caribbean, is once again a threat to persons who are susceptible to mosquito bites and unprotected when enjoying the outdoors.

Recently recognized and joining Dengue fever as a mosquito-borne illness, CHIKV symptoms range from mild to severe headaches, high fever, muscle pain, possible rash and, most notable, severe joint pains in the arms and legs that can be highly debilitating and prolonged. Patients describe feeling "so ill" that they can't get out of bed. It can take a toll on work productivity and activities of daily living.

To date, no vaccine or treatment is available, and the mechanism for protection has been difficult to grasp. But, according to Cell Host & Microbe, a group of scientists recently isolated human monoclonal antibodies (mAbs) from donors that neutralize CHIKV infectivity. Several of these mAbs exhibited prophylactic and therapeutic activity in a mouse model, suggesting hope for prevention of infection in the future with a vaccine.

While it is too soon to determine if a vaccine is possible, this discover provides a lead for scientists to continue studying the potential for providing protection to "at-risk" individuals. 

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC

Phenelle Segal, RN, CIC, FAPIC, is the founder and president of Infection Control Consulting Services LLC (ICCS), which is based in Delray Beach, Florida. Phenelle has more than 30 years experience providing customized comprehensive infection control and prevention services to healthcare facilities nationwide. Her services focus on assisting hospitals, ambulatory surgery centers, dental office and oral surgery practices, doctor's offices, nursing homes to implement and maintain an infection control program that: complies with The Joint Commission (TJC), Centers for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS) and other regulatory agencies, respond to situations of noncompliance, and improve the processes for reducing risk.

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