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Texans Help Test Chikungunya Vaccine

TPR archive
The Aedes Aegypti mosquito can carry the chikungunya virus. This is the same type of mosquito that carries West Nile and Zika.

Texans are among those testing a possible vaccine for the mosquito-borne illness chikungunya. Millions of people around the world could use protection from the virus.


The same mosquito that transmits the headline-making Zika virus, Aedes aegypti, can also carry chikungunya. Baylor College of Medicine in Houston is recruiting 60 volunteers to test an injection designed to bolster immunity against the health threat. Principal investigator Hana El Sahly, MD, said early testing of the experimental vaccine was promising.

"The vaccine was found to be relatively safe and elicit an immune response, a strong antibody response," El Sahly stressed.

Chikungunya causes fever, muscle aches, headaches, and in some cases, joint pain that lingers. It’s in Africa, Asia, South and Central America and Mexico. Not only are people who live there at risk, people who travel to those places are, too. That’s why the National Institutes of Health is funding the trials.

El Sahly says so far, Americans aren’t in much danger of catching this particular mosquito-borne virus. But she advises prudence.

"Chikungunya hasn’t been circulating in our area. However, we have plenty of West Nile going around," El Sahly warned. "Wear your bug spray often."

Rigby: Results of the chikungunya vaccine trials are expected at the end of 2018.

Wendy Rigby is a San Antonio native who has worked as a journalist for more than 25 years. She spent two decades at KENS-TV covering health and medical news. Now, she brings her considerable background, experience and passion to Texas Public Radio.