Dengue fever vaccine looks very promising

Trials of a new dengue fever vaccine appear to be very promising.

The vaccine Tetravalent is manufactured by drug company Sanofi who say it will be ready to be submitted for approval by the year 2012.

Dengue fever is a disease that is carried by mosquitoes and as many as 100 million people are infected with the virus each year, of these more than 24,000 die, most of them children. Dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever are acute febrile diseases which occur in the tropics and in Africa, mainly in areas where malaria is also present.

It usually begins with a severe headache, muscle and joint pains which is often so severe that dengue is often called break-bone fever or bonecrusher disease.

There is also a bright red rash which usually appears first on the lower limbs and the chest and then spreads to cover most of the body. There may also be abdominal pain, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Sometimes the symptoms are mild with no rash and it can be misdiagnosed as influenza or another viral infection.

Dengue is often spread by travelers from tropical areas inadvertently passing it on because they have not been properly diagnosed at the height of their illness. Dengue can only be passed on by infected mosquitoes or blood from patients while they are still febrile. It usually lasts six to seven days but patients with dengue hemorrhagic fever can develop dengue shock syndrome which has a high mortality rate.

The trial conducted in the United States found the vaccine was 100% effective in all participants at protecting against all four serotypes of the virus responsible for dengue fever. Sanofi is now planning additional clinical trials of their vaccine in Asia and Latin America.

The results of the trial are being presented at a meeting in Philadelphia.

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