Vaccines may offer defense against dengue, Zika and chikungunya | Science News


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Vaccines may offer defense against dengue, Zika and chikungunya

The body can be primed to fight mosquito-borne diseases

8:00am, June 15, 2016
patients behind mosquito bed nets

SWAT THAT VIRUS  Hospital patients recover from dengue virus infection under bed nets in Asunción, Paraguay, in 2012. The following year, the country hit a high of more than 144,500 reported cases. Vaccines may be the best means of defense against moquito-borne viruses like dengue, Zika and chikungunya.

Humans can’t easily protect themselves from the most dangerous species on Earth. The predator slips invisibly into homes, quietly stalks its prey and bites before a victim knows what happened. There’s little chance of escape.

The attacker is Aedes aegypti, a mosquito that has, over time, developed a taste for people. It’s a city dweller that hovers in undisturbed crannies and can breed in a mere capful of water. Unlike some mosquitoes, which help themselves to a good meal and fly off satisfied, Ae. aegypti is a serial biter that can work through an entire family in minutes.

The lingering itch isn’t the problem; it’s the saliva transferred with each bite that could be loaded with thousands of virus particles, ready to multiply in the human body with little to stop it.

In the early 1900s, yellow fever, named for its hallmark jaundice and temperature spikes, was the most feared consequence of an Aedes bite.

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