First Chikungunya Vaccine Receives Green Light in the United States

The United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted approval to the world's inaugural vaccine for chikungunya, recognizing it as an "emerging global health threat." This mosquito-borne illness, characterized by fever and joint pains, poses a particular risk to newborns and lacks a dedicated treatment.

The FDA's endorsement is anticipated to expedite the global deployment of the vaccine. In 2023, an estimated 440,000 cases of chikungunya, resulting in 350 fatalities, were reported by September. This infectious disease has become particularly prevalent in South America and South Asia.

The vaccine, named Ixchiq and developed by Europe's Valneva, has received approval for individuals aged 18 and older who are at high risk of contracting the disease. Administered as a single shot, Ixchiq aims to address the severity and lingering health issues associated with chikungunya infections, especially in older adults and those with underlying medical conditions, according to FDA official Peter Marks.

Chikungunya symptoms encompass rashes, headaches, and muscle pain, with joint pains persisting for months or even years. The highest risk of infection lies in tropical and subtropical regions of Africa, Southeast Asia, and parts of the Americas where mosquitoes carrying the chikungunya virus are endemic.

Despite the traditional geographical prevalence of the virus, the FDA noted its expansion to new areas, contributing to a global surge in the disease's prevalence. Brazil has reported the highest number of cases in 2023, with 218,613, according to data from the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Additionally, India, particularly Delhi, witnessed a significant outbreak in 2016, with over 93,000 reported cases. 

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