DENGUE. Remember from my previous article that Dengue virus (DENV), causes a disease/condition known as “break bone”. It is an infectious febrile virus transmitted by mosquitoes, capable of causing life-threatening symptoms, and a subsequent infection can be fatal. People, or now patients, that are diagnosed with Dengue must avoid dehydration from the perspiration and vomiting associated with the infection. They must drink plenty of fluids. Patients can be offered acetaminophens, however, should not have any Non-Steroidal Anti-Inflammatory Drugs (NSAIDs), such as, aspirin. NSAIDs can thin the blood and increase bleeding in Dengue infected patients. Depending on the intensity of the Dengue virus infection hospitalization may be necessary. There is a fine line between treatment and exacerbation of the infection. As mentioned many times before, subsequent infection of Dengue can greatly increase the risks of death to the patient. So how can we prevent Dengue?
There have been many attempts at developing a vaccine for this life-threatening infection. Ideally scientists hoped that a vaccine would produce a suite of neutralizing antibodies against all types of dengue. However, to achieve that has proven to be difficult.
A French vaccine company, Sanofi Pasteur, failed in 2012 at developing a Dengue Vaccine. The Vaccine is hard because you can inoculate a person with severe dengue. In 1940 there was no luck when they realized that they must introduce all 4 types at the same time without causing the body to “freak-out”.
However, just recently The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved the first vaccine to prevent dengue disease caused by all dengue virus serotypes (1, 2, 3, and 4)! Sanofi Pasteur, finally developed the vaccine, Dengvaxia. The vaccine is a live, attenuated vaccine given in three injections. The first dose is followed by two additional injections about 6 and 12 months later. The only catch is that it is only for people aged 9 through 16 years old who have previously had laboratory-confirmed dengue infection and who live in endemic areas. This sparked controversary early-on, as experts argued that administering the vaccine to people who have never been infected could cause them to develop severe dengue.
There is still no cure for dengue disease, however, approval is an important step towards softening the impact of Dengue. It remains, that the most effective way to avoid being infected by Dengue fever is to avoid mosquito bites. The best precautions to take to avoid infection would be simple. Staying indoors in risky environments is the easiest.