Thursday October 18, 2018

Study: Partial Dose of Yellow Fever Vaccine Provides Protection

A full dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong immunity. Researchers will continue to study how long people who received partial doses are protected

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Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America.
Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America. Wikimedia Commons
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  • Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease
  • Severe cases can cause jaundice and death, but most cases involve fever, muscle pain and vomiting
  • More than 350 people have become infected with yellow fever in Brazil since late last year

When stockpiles of yellow fever vaccine run low, partial doses are effective, according to a new study.

The report on the vaccine, which currently is in short supply, comes as officials in Brazil attempt to contain an outbreak with what they describe as the largest-ever mass vaccination campaign using partial doses.

Yellow fever is a mosquito-borne viral disease found in tropical Africa and South and Central America. Severe cases can cause jaundice and death, but most cases involve fever, muscle pain and vomiting.

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Congo outbreak, experiment

During a major outbreak in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2016, the government aimed to prevent the disease from spreading in the capital, Kinshasa. Health officials launched a mass vaccination campaign targeting 7.6 million people.

But the outbreak had depleted vaccine stockpiles. Hoping to stretch the available supply, the World Health Organization reviewed the small number of available studies on using reduced doses and recommended using one-fifth of a dose per person.

It seemed to work.

Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons
Health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine. Wikimedia Commons

Researchers took blood samples from more than 700 people before and after they received the partial dose. In the new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, nearly all of those vaccinated with the lower dose developed enough antibodies to the virus to prevent infection.

“That was the encouraging thing, that this can be done as a potential way — when there’s supply limitations on the vaccine — to help potentially control an outbreak,” said study co-author Erin Staples at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Hundreds infected

More than 350 people have become infected with yellow fever in Brazil since late last year, and health officials have launched a campaign targeting nearly 24 million people with a one-fifth dose of the vaccine.

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Staples says the new study is good news for controlling outbreaks like Brazil’s in the short term. But, she notes, “We still need some information about how long immunity will last.”

A full dose of yellow fever vaccine provides lifelong immunity. Researchers will continue to study how long people who received partial doses are protected. (VOA)

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WHO Calls Emergency Meeting On Congo’s Ebola

Congo's health ministry says there are now 179 confirmed cases, including 104 deaths.

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Ebola, WHO
In this photo taken Sept 9, 2018, a health worker sprays disinfectant on his colleague after working at an Ebola treatment center in Beni, DRC. VOA

The World Health Organization (WHO) says it is convening a meeting on Wednesday to determine whether Congo’s latest Ebola outbreak constitutes a public health emergency of international concern.

Aid organizations have expressed alarm as the rate of new cases has more than doubled this month and community resistance to Ebola containment efforts in some cases has turned violent.

Ebola, UNICEF. congo, DNA, WHO
Photo taken Sept 9, 2018, shows health workers walking with a boy suspected of having the Ebola virus at an Ebola treatment centre in Beni, Eastern Congo. VOA

This is Congo’s tenth Ebola outbreak but this is the first time the deadly virus has appeared in the far northeast, an area of active rebel attacks that health workers have compared to a war zone.

WHO recently said the risk of regional spread was “very high” as confirmed cases were reported close to the heavily traveled border with Uganda.

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Congo’s health ministry says there are now 179 confirmed cases, including 104 deaths. (VOA)