Australian researchers are working on a new vaccine that could protect against mosquito-borne Ross River Fever. They are conducting the world-first trial of the vaccine with positive results reported so far.
Ross River Fever affects more than 5,000 people nation-wide each year. Study leader, Peter Richmond, says WA cases of the virus have risen this year, particularly in the South West and Kimberley regions. “There's generally between three and 800 cases each year and we have a bad year every four years…So far in WA we've had 500 cases this year, so it's a good time to be trialling a vaccine against Ross River virus. We would hope that in two to three years there might be a vaccine that's for use in the population but that would depend on the company putting it up for registration.”
He said the major flooding in the northern parts of the country over the summer months had led to a longer mosquito breeding season, and also extended the regions in which people could become infected. Dr. Richmond added symptoms of the mosquito-borne virus could come on suddenly, including a combination of arthritis, rash, fever and general fatigue lasting anywhere from six to 12 months. At the moment, the only way to avoid contracting the virus is to avoid mosquito bites altogether.
The study is being conducted by the Vaccine Trials Group at the Telethon Institute for Child Health Research, in conjunction with Princess Margaret Hospital and the University of WA School of Paediatrics and Child Health. The vaccine includes three separate injections from one of three batches of the trial vaccine over a 12 month period. Healthy adults are encouraged to apply directly to the group on 9340 8542.