Zika Vaccine

Since May 2015, the Zika virus epidemic has plagued many nations and continues to spread to more. However, the mosquito-transmitted disease may soon be eradicated with the development of a new Zika vaccine.

On Monday, June 20, 2016, reports went viral when the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) approved the following drug developers to initiate human clinical trials for the Zika Vaccine: Inovio Pharmaceuticals Inc, based in Plymouth Meeting, Pennsylvania, and GeneOne Life Sciences Inc, based in Seoul, South Korea.

Both Inovio and GeneOne have co-created vaccines for Ebola and MERS, which are also undergoing efficacy testing.

The vaccine, labeled GLS-5700, will be enrolled in a phase I study. This study will include 40 healthy volunteer human test subjects who will be given the vaccine to measure the safety, tolerability and effectiveness of the drug.

The initial trials are scheduled to begin July 2016, and should they yield successful results, they will be promoted to phase II clinical trials. These trials will test GLS-5700’s efficacy on people who have already contracted the Zika virus.

If these phase II trials are successful, then the Zika vaccine will be tested on a large experimental group before it is finally approved for the field.

So far, the Zika virus has affected 58 countries and territories and continues to expand. Initially believed to be harmless, the virus is transmitted by the mosquito species Aedes aegypti. If it is contracted by a pregnant woman, it can cause a neurological birth defect known as microcephaly.

Optimally, the Zika vaccine will be ready for public use by early 2018. Currently, more plans are being made to begin phase II trials in early 2017, which will be conducted by the U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NSAID) based in Bethesda, Maryland.

Jenna Salisbury

Photo: Health Impact News

Reports of Chikungunya Fever are on the rise in Peru, raising concerns at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC has added Peru to the Level One Watch List for Chikungunya Fever, as the disease moves toward epidemic proportions in the country. The Peruvian Ministry of Health is taking precautions to limit the spread of the disease in the country, which may have spread from neighboring countries.

Minister Velasquez of the Peruvian Ministry of Health and Minister Candace Vance of Health Ministry of Ecuador have signed an agreement to jointly fight the disease. This agreement allowed Peru to identify the first indigenous case of Chikungunya Fever.

The Peruvian Ministry of Health of has put together a national plan to combat the disease including a surveillance agency MOH to monitor infectious disease coming across the border. They have also placed an epidemiological fence in areas where the disease is prevalent and spray shops and homes to eradicate the disease.

In partnership with Ecuador, the are closely monitoring outbreak and implementing vector control in areas where the outbreaks arise in. Ecuador has suffered more than 15,000 cases of Chikungunya Fever this year alone.

Across Latin America, rates of mosquito-borne disease are increasing; the joint action plan between Ecuador and Peru marks a first step in interstate cooperation to combat mosquito-borne diseases.

Chikungunya fever, much like malaria, Yellow fever, Typhoid fever and Dengue is spread by the bite of a mosquito. Chikungunya symptoms begin about 3-7 days after being bitten by the Aedes Egypti mosquito.

The symptoms include fever, joint pain, headache, muscle ache, rash or swelling. These symptoms left untreated can severely disable an individual. Symptoms can last anywhere from a week to a month depending on the severity of the case.

Robert Cross

Sources: CDC, EL Universo, Outbreak News Today, PMOH, Peru This Week
Photo: Información desde América Latina