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New test may help to ensure that dengue vaccines do no harm
Date:2/12/2009

As vaccines against a virus that infects 100 million people annually reach late-stage clinical trials this year, researchers have developed a test to better predict whether a given vaccine candidate should protect patients from the infection, or in some cases, make it more dangerous, according to an article just published in the journal Clinical and Vaccine Immunology.

Cases of tropical, mosquito-borne dengue fever have expanding globally for more than 50 years, with nearly a third of the human population in 100 countries now at risk of infection with the four types of dengue virus. Infection with the dengue flavivirus, which is related to West Nile Virus and Yellow Fever, results in an estimated 500,000 hospitalizations and 22,000 deaths, mostly among infants, each year, according to the World Health Organization. After decades of absence in the United States, experts say the disease is causing illness again along the Texas-Mexico border, and that widespread dengue infection in the continental United States is a real possibility.

A typical dengue infection confines a patient to bed for more than a week with fever and severe limb pains, but most recover. In less than five percent of cases, however, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS), often deadly complications, develop just as the fever breaks. Mostly affecting babies between five and eight months of age, DHF causes victims to vomit and pass blood in their feces and urine. If diagnosed quickly, patients respond to intensive hospital treatment and fluids, but mortality can reach 15 percent when undiagnosed. DSS comes when the infection has caused so much fluid to leak out of capillaries that there is not enough blood to supply organs. As of 2008, there were no antiviral drugs designed to treat dengue and no drug candidates in late-stage development.

"Aggressive health education and mosquito abatement programs have saved lives, but hopes for a true
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Contact: Greg Williams
Greg_Williams@urmc.rochester.edu
University of Rochester Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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