Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 8, 2007

Dengue vaccine still a long way off

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:22 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: It could take another 15 to 20 years before an effective vaccine or a cure is found for dengue.
Extensive research is being conducted in several countries, including the United States, India and Malaysia, following its emergence as a major public health problem globally.
However, 200 years after the first dengue fever epidemic was reported in Asia, Africa and North America, there was still no sign of a vaccine.
Currently, the most promising research involved a plant-based anti-viral preparation known as Dengimm.
A five-member research team from University Malaya Medical Centre had carried out evaluation studies on the preparation’s potential in the hope that it could be used as an alternative approach for early treatment of the disease.
“An effective vaccine must provide high level and lasting immunity and, at the moment, many approaches are taken in the development of a dengue vaccine.
“This includes vaccines which will be able to cripple highly infective dengue viruses,” said Professor Shamala Devi, director of the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arbovirus Reference & Research at the Department of Medical Microbiology, Universiti Malaya.
The most common treatment for dengue today involves easing its symptoms. Once diagnosed with dengue fever, a patient is prescribed plenty of bed rest, lots of fluids and medicine such as paracetamol to reduce the fever.
Drinking lots of water is vital as it prevents dehydration. If the patient is unable to drink orally, he is usually given fluid intravenously.
Over-the-counter pain-reducing medicines are also considered safe for most to ease the pain.
“Although intravenous fluids may be all that is required for treatment, good nursing care and observation are also essential as the symptoms of dengue may change rapidly and the patient may end up in critical condition,” said Shamala.
As it will take a long time to produce an effective vaccine, the public has been urged to take precautions to stop its spread.
This includes controlling the mosquito vector in and around the house where most transmissions occur. Among the precautions include avoid having stagnant water for more than a week as the life cycle of the Aedes mosquito lasts for seven to 14 days.
“You should also change the water in your pet’s water container regularly and clean water containers.
“Be proactive and contact the authorities if you suspect a case of dengue fever in your neighbourhood.
“You can also participate in community efforts like gotong-royong and make insecticide spraying a weekly routine at home.”
Windows and doors should also be kept open when fogging is carried out as this would enable the insecticide to get to the Aedes mosquitoes and larvae inside the house.

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