Home Health New developments might assist combat the chikungunya virus wave in South America : NPR

New developments might assist combat the chikungunya virus wave in South America : NPR

New developments might assist combat the chikungunya virus wave in South America : NPR


Greater than 1 / 4 million new instances of the chikungunya virus have surfaced in South America this 12 months. New advances might quickly assist us outfox the virus, which may trigger debilitating joint ache.


The chikungunya virus is on the rise once more, together with in South America, the place greater than 1 / 4 million new instances have already surfaced this 12 months. The illness is never deadly, however it could go away long-lasting joint ache. As NPR’s Ari Daniel studies, a vaccine might quickly be on the way in which.

ARI DANIEL, BYLINE: Through the years, Dr. Susana Lloveras has seen instances of chikungunya in Buenos Aires, the place she works as an infectious illness doctor at Hospital Muniz.

SUSANA LLOVERAS: However it’s not frequent for us – no multiple or two instances.

DANIEL: Annually, and all the time from individuals bringing the mosquito-borne virus with them from different nations. However earlier this 12 months…

LLOVERAS: We obtain on a regular basis sufferers with chikungunya.

DANIEL: Together with some with no journey historical past, which implies, for the primary time, mosquitoes inside Buenos Aires had been transmitting the illness. Case counts are up throughout Argentina. When somebody enters Lloveras’ hospital with chikungunya, there is not any mistaking it.

LLOVERAS: The sufferers got here right here with fever and with ache of their joints.

DANIEL: The joints of their fingers and toes, says Lloveras, and their knees. The ache can get so unhealthy that some have issue strolling and even holding a cup of espresso.

LLOVERAS: You’re effectively, and out of the blue, you possibly can’t transfer. You want one other particular person enable you to to do the frequent job of on a regular basis.

DANIEL: Lloveras prescribes drugs to ease the fever and ache. However she tells her sufferers the illness simply has to run its course, which might be difficult as a result of some individuals endure from the joint ache for months or years although their immune methods have created antibodies to clear the virus.

MARGARET KIELIAN: We do not actually perceive what causes that debilitating arthritis.

DANIEL: Margaret Kielian is a virologist on the Albert Einstein Faculty of Medication, and he or she and her colleagues discovered one thing that would deliver us a step nearer to fixing this thriller. So most viruses make us sick by turning ourselves into virus-making machines. They launched a great deal of new viral particles that may go on to contaminate new cells. Chikungunya does that, nevertheless it additionally does one thing else.

KIELIAN: The virus induces the contaminated cell to generate these very dramatic lengthy extensions that may go from the contaminated cell to neighboring cells.

DANIEL: One or two tendrils, typically so long as the cell itself, snaking outwards – at occasions towards uninfected cells. And although these tendrils may be bathed in antibodies…

KIELIAN: That contact between the contaminated cell and the uninfected cell shields the virus from the antibodies, and that is how that cell will get contaminated.

DANIEL: That’s, the virus can unfold by these extensions between cells, escaping assault by the immune system.

KIELIAN: It is early days, nevertheless it suggests this may be one mechanism by which the virus can type of get established – possibly in joint tissues. That could be necessary in inflicting the arthritis. We’ll see.

DANIEL: This examine, which was carried out in mice, was revealed within the journal Nature Microbiology.

NISCHAY MISHRA: This info could be very helpful.

DANIEL: Helpful to tell the event of vaccines for a illness whose footprint is rising, says Nischay Mishra. He is a virologist at Columbia College who wasn’t concerned within the examine.

MISHRA: It is a international concern. Like, the way in which local weather is altering, there are extra probabilities, like, mosquitoes can survive in every single place.

DANIEL: Chikungunya’s already an issue in locations like India, China and quite a few nations in Africa. Even within the U.S., Texas and Florida have, in earlier years, reported native transmission of the illness. Thankfully, a number of vaccine efforts are underway, and Mishra says one could also be accepted as quickly as the tip of this 12 months.

Ari Daniel, NPR Information.


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