Sunday, December 14, 2014

The Ultimate Test: Infecting Healthy Individuals with Dengue?

At the Walter Reed Army Institute, researchers are considering using the "human challenge" model to research drugs and vaccines against dengue. Although individuals have been deliberately infected with other, less dangerous pathogens such as malaria and influenza in the past, dengue presents a much higher risk because there are no antiviral medications. With improper treatment, 20% of those infected can die. However, with proper medical care, the mortality rate is much lower than one percent. 

Why exactly are scientists willing to take the risk now? The major reason is the spread of dengue. It has increased 30-fold in the past 50 years, and has spread from just a few countries in the 1950s to over 60 countries today. There are over 22,000 deaths every year due to dengue. At this point, it is essential to conduct more research on dengue to see which strains cause illness in individuals and study them in order to give people around the world better treatment and prevention options. 



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