Will There Be a Dengue Vaccine in Time for the Brazil Olympics?

Key Takeaways:
  • The mosquitoes that carry the dengue disease bite during the day as well as the night so it can be difficult for travelers to stay protected using traditional mosquito borne disease precautions.
  • Dengue fever can be a serious illness and could even lead to death.
  • According to the World Health Organization, Brazil has the highest prevalence of dengue in the world.
  • Sanofi is in the late clinical trial stages of a dengue vaccine and is showing considerable promise.
  • Before traveling to Brazil or any other country where dengue is prevalent, Passport Health travel health specialists can advise you about how to reduce your risk of infection.

Dengue has plagued tropical areas of the world for centuries. The illness results from a virus that is spread through mosquito bites. Because the mosquitoes that carry this disease bite during the day as well as the night, it can be difficult for travelers to stay protected using traditional mosquito borne disease precautions such as repellents and netting. Due to the serious nature of dengue and the hundreds of millions of people living in or traveling to affected areas of the world, Sanofi, a worldwide leader in vaccine development, has been working on a vaccine to protect against the dengue virus.

What Is Dengue?

Within two weeks of a bite from an infected mosquito, a person with dengue will develop symptoms that include a fever, headache, vomiting, nausea, rash, and muscular and joint pain. Symptoms typically last for one week. In severe cases of dengue, infected individuals develop intense stomach pain, frequent vomiting, bleeding from the gums and nose, and can even die. Patients with dengue are advised against taking non-steroidal anti-inflammatory medications such as ibuprofen, as they can increase the risk of bleeding. Acetaminophen is used to treat the pain, and rest and liquids are used to combat the loss of fluids.

Prevalence of Dengue in Brazil

Brazil has the highest prevalence of dengue in the world, reports the World Health Organization. In 2013, reported cases of dengue rose nearly 300 percent, from 70,000 in a seven week period in 2012 to more than 200,000 during the same seven week period in 2013. Not only are native Brazilians at risk, but so are travelers coming to visit for sporting events such as the 2016 Summer Olympics and the 2014 World Cup.

The Potential Dengue Vaccine

Sanofi, a French vaccine research, development and manufacturing company, is in the late clinical trial stages of a dengue vaccine. Previous vaccine trials did not protect against all dengue sub-types, but the current Sanofi vaccine shows considerable promise. If the data show that the vaccine is successful, the first batches of vaccine available to the general public could be ready by late 2015, just in time for the 2016 Summer Olympic games to be held in Brazil.

Reducing the Risk of Dengue Infection

Before traveling to Brazil or any other country where dengue is prevalent, Passport Health travel health specialists can advise you about how to reduce your risk of infection. A pre-travel health exam by a travel health specialist will help you prepare for your trip abroad. A review of your immunization history will help determine which vaccines you should receive before departing on your trip. Travel consultations also include advice on packing and preparing for healthy travel, including bringing essentials such as mosquito repellant, sunscreen, water purification tablets, over-the-counter and prescription medications, and first-aid kits. Should a dengue vaccine become ready for distribution, Passport Health travel health specialists will be among the first to offer it to our clients.

Sources:
http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/diseases/dengue

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