Paraguay's Chikungunya Outbreak Intensifies

Chikungunya vaccine seeks U.S. approval
Paraguay map
U.S. CDC map Paraguay Feb 2023
Asunción (Vax Before Travel)

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently joined other health agencies in confirming an outbreak of chikungunya disease in the Asunción metropolitan area in Paraguay.

On February 22, 2023, the CDC issued a Watch - Level 1, Practice Usual Precautions notice saying travelers to these areas in Paraguay should seek medical care if they develop fever, joint pain, headache, muscle pain, joint swelling, or rash. 

The word 'chikungunya' means 'that which bends up,' an allusion to the posture of the suffering patients.

Most people infected with the chikungunya virus develop some symptoms usually begin 3–7 days after a bite by an infected mosquito. 

As of 2022, the highest number of chikungunya cases in the Americas Region was reported by Brazil, with 265,289 cases, which represents (96.9 %) of total regional cases.

Belize follows in case counts with 2,509 cases (0.9 %), then Paraguay with 2,443 cases (0.9 %), Guatemala with 2,086 cases (0.8 %), and Peru with 595 cases (0.2%).

During the same period, 87 deaths attributed to chikungunya disease were reported in the Americas.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control says diagnostic tests are available for visitors to the Americas, but there is no antiviral treatment or licensed vaccine.

However, the CDC's Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) discussed very positive news regarding chikungunya vaccine candidates on February 23, 2023.

Beth Bell, M.D., MPH, led the ACIP's review of a tentative timeline for vaccine approval.

A leading vaccine candidate is Valneva SE's VLA1553, a monovalent, single-dose, live-attenuated chikungunya vaccine candidate, currently the only one in clinical development, showing fully sustained titers one year after a single vaccination.

VLA1553 has been assigned a Prescription Drug User Fee Act review goal date at the end of August 2023. And Valneva plans to make regulatory submissions to the European Medicines Agency in the first half of 2023. 

These updates indicate this vaccine candidate could become available for travelers to the Americas soon.

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