The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced its approval of Ixchiq on Thursday, the first chikungunya vaccine.
The vaccine, made by Valneva, is approved for anyone aged 18 and older at risk of exposure to the virus.
The chikungunya virus is transmitted to humans through the bites of infected mosquitoes.
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“This virus is in a similar category to dengue or Zika and is carried by the same mosquitoes,” noted Dr. Marc Siegel, clinical professor of medicine at Langone Medical Center of New York and a Fox News medical contributor.
The FDA has described chikungunya as an “emerging threat to global health,” with at least five million cases reported over the past 15 years.
“Infection with chikungunya virus can cause severe illness and health problemsespecially for older adults and people with underlying health conditions,” Peter Marks, MD, PhD, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said in a news release Thursday. press.
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“Today’s approval addresses an unmet medical need and is an important step forward in preventing a potentially debilitating disease with limited treatment options,” he also said.
Prior to FDA approval, the vaccine was tested for safety in clinical trials including 3,500 adults.
The most commonly reported side effects of participants were headache, muscle pain, fatigue, joint pain, nausea, fever, and tenderness at the injection site.
A small portion of recipients (1.6%) experienced adverse reactions, with two requiring hospitalization, according to the FDA statement.
In a separate study, vaccine effectiveness was measured based on immune response data from 266 adult participants.
Almost all of them were shown to have protective levels of antibodies.
Chikungunya virus symptoms
The most common symptoms are fever and joint pain, with some people also experiencing headache, muscle aches, joint swelling or rash, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC).
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Symptoms usually begin within three to seven days of transmission.
Most people who contract the virus improve within a week.
In rare cases, the virus can cause severe, long-lasting joint pain.
Those most at risk of adverse health effects include the elderly, newborns who become infected at birth, and those with the disease. cardiac diseasediabetes or high blood pressure, according to the CDC.
Deaths from the virus are very rare.
Location of outbreaks
Mosquitoes carrying the chikungunya virus are endemic in Africa, Southeast Asia and parts of the Americas, the FDA said in its statement.
Before 2013, cases of chikungunya virus were mainly documented in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
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In late 2013, the first local cases were documented in Caribbean countries, which then led to the virus spreading across the Americas, the CDC said.
Treatment and prevention
For those who have been exposed and have symptoms, a blood test can confirm the presence of chikungunya or other similar viruses.
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Infected people with symptoms should rest, stay hydrated with fluids, and take over-the-counter medicationssuch as acetaminophen or acetaminophen, to relieve and reduce fever, according to the CDC.
People traveling to countries where the virus is widespread can reduce their risk by using insect repellent, wearing long-sleeved shirts and pants, and staying indoors or in protected areas.
Siegel noted that the vaccine — which he deems “safe and effective” — contains a weakened live version of the viral vaccine.
“That means it’s not for the immunocompromised, but is helpful for those who are at risk of developing severe cases of chikungunya,” he told Fox News Digital.
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The doctor added: “The vaccine is being fast-tracked, which for me means I would give it to those most at risk first, while monitoring post-marketing studies over the next year. “
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