FDA approves 1st Chikungunya virus vaccine

The FDA on Nov. 9 granted approval to Ixchiq, the first vaccine to protect against chikungunya virus. 

The single-dose vaccine was developed by Valneva, a French biotech company. It had been on an accelerated approval track with the FDA. 

Although most cases of the mosquito-borne illness in the U.S. are acquired through travel, locally acquired infections have occurred. In 2014, there were 12 cases of locally acquired chikungunya in the U.S., according to CDC data. A single locally acquired case was also reported in 2015, but not since.

The infection could become more common in the U.S. as environmental changes make territories in new regions more habitable for the tropical, disease carrying mosquitoes. 

"I think the chikungunya virus has a very high potential to have a very different type of threat than dengue…" David Vu, MD, a pediatric infectious diseases specialist at Stanford told Becker's. "Chikungunya is also transmitted by the same mosquito vectors as dengue. It doesn't cause ICU level admissions; however, it can cause a severe debilitating arthritis that can really strain the outpatient healthcare infrastructure. So I think that also has an epidemic potential in the U.S."

Although death from chikungunya virus is rare, infants and individuals over 65 are at increased risk, according to the CDC. 

This year, the U.S. has begun to see more mosquito-borne diseases, like dengue, transmit locally.

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