Chikungunya: Cause, effect and prevention

How is Chikungunya virus transmitted?
Humans are infected when Aedes aegypti and albopictus mosquitoes, containing Chikungunya virus, bite humans. The viruses are transmitted during the mosquito bite (blood meal). The viruses then multiply in humans and can then be picked up by other uninfected mosquitoes when they bite infected humans to complete the viral replication cycle.

Is Chikungunya virus infection contagious?
Chikungunya virus infection is not considered to be contagious because there is no direct human to human transfer of Chikungunya viruses, so infected individuals cannot directly transfer the virus to another human because the virus has to pass through a mosquito first. However, outbreaks can occur in populations where a number of both mosquitoes and humans are infected with the virus. Rarely, the virus may be transmitted from the mother to her newborn; also, researchers suggest the virus may possibly be transferred by blood transfusions from an infected individual.


What are Chikungunya virus infection symptoms?
Most people that become infected with the virus will develop some symptoms usually within 3 to 7 days after a bite by an infected mosquito.The most common symptoms are fever, joint pain, and swelling. The affected individual also may develop headache, muscle pain, and/or rash. Most patients feel better in about seven days, but in some individuals the joint painmay last for months.

The symptoms are similar to those of another disease, dengue fever, which is also spread by the same mosquitoes. Rare complications include: eye problems, inflammation of the heart, liver, brain, skin, kidneys and nerves. Neonates and the elderly ( more than 65 years), especially those with other medical problems, are at highest risk for severe disease and complications.

How is Chikungunya virus infection diagnosed?
The Chikungunya disease may be diagnosed by blood antibody tests that distinguish between this infection and dengue fever, a similar viral disease, and other diseases. There is no medicine or vaccine available to specifically treat or prevent Chikungunya virus infections.

How can Chikungunya virus infection be prevented?
The best way to prevent Chikungunya infections is to avoid getting mosquito bites. This can be done by eliminating areas were mosquitoes breed (emptying containers where water is left standing, for example), wearing protective clothing such as long-sleeved shirts and long pants and using insect repellents appropriately.


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Khloe Kardashian Skin Cancer Risk Still High? Star Now Wants To Remove All Freckles, Moles

Khloe Kardashian skin cancer risk may still be high. Fans recently spotted the reality star at a dermatologists clinic. She even posted a Snapchat pic of herself smiling as the moles and freckles were removed.

After Khloe discovered her risk for skin cancer, she has been very particular about the removal of her moles and freckles. However, it looks like the recent mole removal is not just a precautionary measure.

The reality star also has an agenda in mind and is determined to get it done. Khloe Kardashian skin cancer risk has already led to the reality star being insecure about her moles.

The Kardashian girl previously announced she’s already clear of skin cancer. She has often talked about the hundreds of moles on her body. Fans were under the impression that she would embrace it as part of her appearance but the reality star is keen to get rid of them.

Dermatologist Sejal Shah said the procedure that Khloe has opted for is often used for removal of benign tumors. Does this mean Khloe is suffering?

The same procedure that Khloe has opted for is also used for removal of small skin tags. Shah further reveals that if the treatment is pursued aggressively, it can lead to permanent scarring of the patient, reports Yahoo!

The treatment plan for Khloe Kardashian may include multiple sessions. Apparently, the treatment depends on the size of the mole and the number of them that the patient has. Either ways, Khloe seems to be very comfortable with the treatment as is evident from her smiling snapchat at the clinic.


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Preventing Skin Cancer Means Making Sunscreen a Year-Round Habit

Any dermatologist will tell you that it doesn’t matter that it’s winter – sunscreen needs to be a year-round habit.

“Even on a cloudy day, 40 percent of the UV rays are still coming through,” says Dr. Arash Akhavan of Dermatology & Laser Group.

“I don’t worry about it enough during the year, aside from the summer, which I know I should be,” says Lauren Johnson, a patient.

Dr. Akhavan says skin cancer remains the number one cancer in the United States, with more than five million cases diagnosed a year. He urges his patients to be diligent.

“We could laser those away, they’re really just a cosmetic issue. Luckily they’re not any sort of cancer risk,” he says. “One person unfortunately dies of melanoma every 50 minutes in the U.S., so it’s a serious problem. We are seeing it more and more in younger patients.”

Dr. Akhavan has a checklist he refers to as A-B-C-D-E. He wants everyone to use it .

“The A stands for asymmetry; you want them all to be nice and symmetric. The B is for borders; we like moles that have nice, smooth borders, not irregular or jagged borders. C is for color; we want a mole typically to be uniform color throughout, not multiple colors in the same region. D is for diameter; we like a mole in general to be less than six millimeters. Six millimeters is the size of a No. 2 pencil eraser. And then the last is E for evolving; so typically we like a mole to be stable in their appearance, not changing over time. Any of those things you should alert your dermatologist,” he says.

Dr. Akhavan says you should apply an ounce of sunscreen about 15 minutes before you go out, and remember to reapply every two hours. How much is an ounce? He says it’s about a shot-glass worth of sunscreen.


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Rise in foreign vacations set to cause skin cancer spike, scientists warn

The number of Britons developing the two most common forms of skin cancer is set to soar because people are taking more foreign holidays, scientists have warned.

Cases of non-melanoma skin cancers (NMSC) are forecast to rise by 78 per cent by 2025 as people are exposed to harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays during increasingly common overseas breaks.

The study, which was published in the British Journal of Dermatology, found there were likely to be around 380,000 cases of NMSC in 2025 – up from 213,000 in 2015.

Scientists did not include the deadliest type of skin cancer, called melanoma, but this is also expected to become more common.

Treating the skin cancer “epidemic” will cost the NHS up to £465m a year by 2025, a sharp rise on the £261m spent in 2010.

Researchers from Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital and the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service used official data to predict the rise.

Dr Nick Levell, president of the British Association of Dermatologists and one of the authors of the study, said “NMSC is largely a disease of older people, as it is mainly linked with cumulative sun exposure, and so numbers will increase with changing UK demographics, producing a growing burden on healthcare resources.

“However, the ageing population isn’t the only reason why we are seeing these increases. Other factors include the rise in affordable foreign holidays, which has allowed more people to visit sunny climates, and the widespread popularity of tanned skin in British society, encouraging people to spend more time in the sun and on sunbeds.”

Experts also said the NHS was under-equipped to cope with the rise in skincancer cases.

Matthew Gass, of the British Association of Dermatologists, said: “The UK has been fighting to combat the rising tide of skin cancer over the last few decades, and this research shows that things are going to get worse.

“As it stands many dermatology departments are struggling to manage the increasing rates of skin cancer, at a cost to people with other skin diseases. This situation will be made even worse by rising staff shortages.

“We are not being allowed to train an adequate number of doctors to cope with the current workload in dermatology resulting in almost a quarter of consultant dermatologist posts in the UK being unfilled.

“This workforce shortage will only get worse in the future.”


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This disease is affecting Gigi Hadid’s weight

We don’t know about you, but from where we were sitting, Gigi Hadid looked pretty much flawless while walking the catwalk at the Victoria’s Secret fashion show (which, as fellow VS model Jasmine Tookes can attest, is no doubt due to plenty of hard work).

Yet, as Gigi recently revealed, whipping her bod into shape wasn’t as simple as clean eating and working out. That’s because she’s got a disease that actually affects her weight. Uh, come again?

Despite the fact that both her mother and her sister have both been open about their struggles with Lyme disease, we never would’ve guessed that Gigi was anything less than the picture of health — at least not by looking at her.

Lyme disease isn’t what’s giving the 21-year-old model struggle, though. Instead, she revealed to Elle magazine that she actually suffers from what is called Hashimoto’s disease: the same autoimmune issue affecting actress Zoe Saldana.

The condition essentially attacks your thyroid, and sufferers can experience swelling at the throat, enlargement of the tongue, muscle aches and pains, pale and dry skin, fatigue and unexplained weight gain or loss (a big deal when you’re a model trying to maintain your weight!), in addition to mental disturbances, such as depression or memory lapses.

While treatment exists in the form of medication, it’s something that needs constant monitoring. “My metabolism actually changed like crazy this year,” Gigi told the outlet. “It’s now been two years since I’ve been taking the medication for it, so for the VS show I didn’t want to lose any more weight, I just wanted to have muscles in the right place, and if my butt can get a little perkier, then that’s good,” she said.

It definitely didn’t seem to slow her down: Not only did she reveal her workout secrets to the mag (a sticky note on the fridge to remind her to do 15 squats with every passing), she also said she works it out at the gym by boxing with the fellas.’ Atta girl!

We’re feeling awful lazy all of a sudden… womp, womp. But seriously, good for you, Gig, for not only being brave enough to share your story, but for not letting it rule your world.


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Valneva Receives FDA and European Approvals to Start Clinical Testing of Lyme Disease Vaccine Candidate

Valneva SE (“Valneva” or “the Company”), a fully integrated, commercial stage biotech company focused on developing innovative life-saving vaccines, today announced that its vaccine candidate VLA15 against Lyme disease is now progressing into clinical testing (Phase I) following the Investigational New Drug application (IND) clearance from the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) and the approval of the Clinical Trial Application (CTA) in Europe (Belgium).

Currently, there is no licensed vaccine available to protect humans against Lyme disease, a multi systemic tick-transmitted infection that can cause serious health problems and disabilities. Each year, an estimated 300,000 Americans and 85,000 Europeans develop Lyme disease and according to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), it is the fastest growing vector-borne infectious disease in the United States.Valneva is developing a new hexavalent, protein subunit-based vaccine targeting the Outer Surface Protein A (OspA) of Borrelia. OspA is, one of the most dominant proteins expressed by the bacteria when present in a tick. Pre-clinical data showed that Valneva’s vaccine candidate can provide protection against the majority of Borrelia species pathogenic for humans[1].

Thomas Lingelbach, President and CEO, and Franck Grimaud, Deputy CEO of Valneva, commented, “We are very pleased to be able to advance our Lyme vaccine candidate which is intended to address such an important unmet medical need. We are committed to finding ways to accelerate the clinical development path to licensure, given that we are conducting the only active vaccine program in the industry.”Valneva’s Phase I trial VLA15-101 is being conducted at two sites – one in the U.S. and one in Europe (Belgium)  and will enroll 180 subjects, aged 18-40 years. The primary objective of the single-blind, partially randomized, dose escalation study will be to evaluate the product candidate’s safety and tolerability. Immunogenicity, measured by observing IgG antibodies specific against six OspA serotypes, will also be monitored for different dose groups and formulations at different time-points.



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A new Lyme disease vaccine will soon be tested on Americans and Europeans

A French biotech company just took a crucial step toward preventing vexing new cases of Lyme disease, an epidemic that’s spreading across the United States and Europe.

Valneva, which has been developing a preventative vaccine for the disease, announced on Friday that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave it permission to start clinical trials of the treatment on people.

The European Union’s Clinical Trial Application also gave Valneva a similar go-ahead.

“We are committed to finding ways to accelerate the clinical development path to licensure, given that we are conducting the only active vaccine program in the industry,” company leaders said in a statement.

A $50-a-dose vaccine for adults called LYMErix was released in 1998, and it was nearly 80% effective. But its maker — SmithKline Beecham (now GlaxoSmithKline) — stopped selling it n 2002, primarily due to a lawsuit backed by anti-vaccine supporters.

GlaxoSmithKline eventually settled out of court. Though the people who fought the company cited adverse reactions, including Lyme disease-like symptoms, an official and extensive follow-up study found nothing abnormal about the vaccine.

Today, Lyme disease vaccines currently exist for dogs, but none have been approved for humans in nearly 15 years — and in that time the disease has grown into an epidemic.

Roughly 300,000 new Lyme disease cases happen annually in the US, according to the CDC’s latest data, from 2013. (One study estimates as many as 440,000 new infections occurred in 2008.) About 85,000 Europeans a year are also infected.

Treating the disease likely racks up more than $1 billion per year in US healthcare costs alone, according to one recent study.

“Primary prevention is something where we’re clearly losing the battle on,” Dr. Paul Mead, chief of epidemiology and surveillance for the CDC’s Lyme disease program, told Business Insider in 2015. “A safe and effective vaccine could help us turn the tide.”

Lyme disease is caused by tiny bacteria called Borrelia, which is spread by ticks as small as a poppyseed.

Those infected with Borrelia can develop severe, rheumatoid arthritis-like joint and muscle pain. Fatigue and neurological disorders — such as numbness, tingling, weakness, and cognitive impairment — can set in too.

The best, first-line treatment is two to four weeks’ worth of antibiotics, usually doxycycline or amoxicillin, within a few days of infection — before the bacteria can get too cozy in joints, nerves, and other tissues. Manufacturers of these drugs charge anywhere from $20 to thousands of dollars per treatment, according to

“The longer you go without treatment, the more serious your symptoms can be,” Emily Adrion, a public-health researcher at Johns Hopkins University, told Business Insider in 2015.

Even then, she previously said, there’s “a lot of overlap” with other conditions — so doctors don’t always think to order a test for Lyme disease. That’s why Lyme disease is sometimes called the “great imitator” or “great masquerader.”

Left untreated, infections can lead to brain inflammation or heart problems. At least a handful of such cases have proven fatal.

Infections don’t just go away on their own. And even though “the vast majority of cases are treatable and short-lived,” Dr. Mead previously said, symptoms don’t always vanish with antibiotics.

Some patients insist on long-term antibiotic injections, which are expensive, frequently harmful, sometimes deadly, and only rarely help someone feel better. Others turn away from licensed doctors altogether and pursue dubious alternative treatments.

Vaccination could help avoid these and other issues, if a new one that works comes to market.

Just because a Lyme vaccine like Valneva’s is approved for a clinical trial doesn’t guarantee it will be safe and effective in people.

The FDA granted a phase 1 clinical trial of the vaccine, which means it’s being evaluated for safety — not how effective it is, or if it even works at all. Still, it’s an important test that relatively few proposed treatments undergo.

If the phase 1 trials show the vaccine is safe to use in people, it will have to clear two other hurdles before Valneva could sell and market it: a phase 2 trial, which would test how well it works in preventing cases of Lyme disease, and a phase 3 trial, which more broadly tests effectiveness by using different dosages on larger and more diverse populations.

Getting a treatment all the way through phase 3 trials can cost more than a billion dollars; in fact, about 86% don’t pass the final two stages.

Valneva’s new vaccine candidate, unceremoniously named VLA15-101, may have an easier time, though: It’s based on the same core concept as the now-defunct yet already FDA-approved LYMErix vaccine.

That vaccine worked by injecting people with an outer surface protein of Borrelia, called OspA. This taught the body’s immune system to recognize the bacteria — and launch an attack if they showed up after a bite from an infected tick.

But the protein in US Borrelia isn’t the same as it is in European species of the bacteria, or even from one region to another. There are six different types. That’s something LYMErix didn’t address, so Valneva-funded researchers based their vaccine on all different kinds of OspA to cover US and European strains of Borrelia.

Their 2014 study in the journal PLoS ONE showed that most mice given the vaccine were protected from Lyme disease by wild ticks infected with many different kinds of Borrelia.

The new phase 1 trial will test the treatment’s safety on 180 adults at a US site and one in Belgium.

Despite relying on a previously successful strategy, however, VLA15-101 faces tough odds: 94% of all drugs that pass animal trials fail to pass in human clinical trials.

Also, seemingly effective Lyme disease vaccines have a habit of dying on the vine due to market forces. A promising one by the Vienna-based company Baxter, for example, is no longer being developed, according to a recent New England Journal of Medicine editorial written by Dr. Stanley A. Plotkin, an emeritus pediatrics professor at the University of Pennsylvania and Lyme disease vaccine advocate.

“To promote the licensure of a new vaccine against Lyme disease, perhaps the greatest need is a concerted demand by the public health community, which would convince manufacturers that there is a market for such a vaccine,” Dr. Plotkin wrote.

Until there is a preventative vaccine for Lyme disease — if there ever is one — vigilant prevention and quick treatment with antibiotics will have to do until what some researchers call a public-health fiasco can be turned around.


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Senator Reed: US creates national strategy to combat Lyme disease

U.S. Sen. Jack Reed says Congress has passed a bill that will help battle Lyme disease.

The Lyme and Tick-Borne Disease Prevention, Education, and Research Act backed by the Rhode Island Democrat as well as Democratic U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Republican U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire will expand federal research efforts to increase surveillance, enhance prevention efforts, and help improve tests to diagnose and treat Lyme disease.

Reed says Rhode Island has a higher incidence of Lyme disease than the national average. State health officials say 904 people reported contracting the disease in 2015 alone.

The incidence of tick-borne disease throughout the country has doubled since 1991.

The bill now goes to the president.

For now, the best way to stay protected from vector-borne illness is to use a proper insect repellent.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using an EPA-registered repellent, as they are proven effective by the government program.

IR-3535 brands are known to be odorless and non-greasy.  They can last up to eight hours without need for reapplication.  IR-3535 products also do not irritate the skin, unlike other products that use DEET and Picaridin.


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Scientists can now battle Zika using insecticide which makes mosquitoes EXPLODE

Known as “mosquitocide”, the chemical compound obstructs the bugs’ salt-ejecting pores, preventing them from emitting urine after they bite humans.

This means that the bugs -which transmit the deadly zika and malaria viruses – swell up.

Malaria kills an estimated 725,000 people a year whilst affecting a further 200 million people across the globe.

Professor Jerod S. Denton, associate professor of Anesthesiology and Pharmacology at Vanderbilt said “we’re essentially preventing mosquitoes from producing urine after they take a blood meal”.

He added: “What our compounds do is stop urine production, so they swell up and can’t volume regulate, and in some cases they just pop.”

Mozzies have developed a genetic resistance to most existing forms of insecticide so it’s hoped that the new compound may be able to provide a way to fight the deadliest animal on earth.

“By targeting blood feeding female mosquitoes, we predict that there will be less selective pressure for the emergence of resistant mutations,” Denton said.

Whilst trials of the chemical are continuing, it is hoped that if successful the compound will be rolled out commercially as a spray, saving potentially thousands of lives.


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Inovio Pharmaceuticals, Inc.’s Biggest Winner from Zika virus

If 2016 had stopped in June, it would have been a fantastic year for Inovio Pharmaceuticals(NASDAQ: INO). The biotech’s stock shot up around 70% by mid-way through the year. Since then, though, most of those gains have evaporated. Still, Inovio enjoyed several successes in 2016. Here’s the biggest win of all.

Worries about the Zika virus intensified earlier this year as country after country reported people becoming infected. Several companies, big and small, announced that they would move aggressively to develop a vaccine for the virus.

Sanofi (NYSE: SNY) jumped into the race to create a Zika vaccine in early February. The French drugmaker already held a lead position in the vaccine market for similar viruses, including yellow fever, Japanese encephalitis, and dengue.

Newlink Genetics (NASDAQ: NLNK) announced its intent to develop a Zika vaccine on the same day as Sanofi. Although the small biotech didn’t have an approved vaccine on the market, NewLink thought its expertise in developing an experimental vaccine for the Ebola virus would position it well in its Zika vaccine program.

However, neither Sanofi nor Newlink Genetics had the honor of being the first company to win approval for clinical testing of a potential Zika vaccine in humans. Inovio, along with partner GeneOne Life Science, received the green light from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on June 20 to move forward with an early-stage clinical study in humans for experimental Zika vaccine GLS-5700.

For the moment, at least, Inovio was leading the way in Zika vaccine development. Since then, two other phase 1 studies of experimental Zika vaccines have begun, including one in which Sanofi is a key player. Inovio was still the first, though, and that makes the initiation of its early-stage clinical study for GLS-5700 the biggest win of 2017 for the small biotech.

Honorable mentions

There were several other important positive developments for Inovio this year. Positive results in pre-clinical studies of GLS-5700 in miceOpens a New Window. and in monkeysOpens a New Window. were announced earlier in 2016. Those studies paved the way for Inovio’s subsequent approval to advance to clinical testing.

In September, Inovio’s experimental Zika vaccine was named a “2016 Technology Breakthrough” by Popular Mechanics magazine. That honor stemmed from Inovio’s approval to begin its phase 1 study. The magazine stated that Inovio “shocked the medical world” with the FDA approval for clinical trials”just nine months after the race to prevent Zika began.”

Inovio announced in December that it had been awarded a $6.1 million grantOpens a New Window. to developaDNA-based monoclonal antibody to treat Zika infection. This effort is different from the biotech’s Zika vaccine program. Monoclonal antibody-based therapies would provide only immediate protection instead oflong-term immunization.

The company also had successes outside of its Zika-related development. In November, Inovio reported positive early resultsOpens a New Window. from a phase 1/2a study of immunotherapy INO-3112 in treatinghead and neck cancer associated with human papillomavirus (HPV).

What’s next?

This good news for Inovio in 2016 was partly overshadowed by a big setback for the company. In October, Inovio announced that the FDA had placed a clinical holdOpens a New Window. on a planned late-stage study ofexperimental cervical dysplasia vaccine VGX-3100.

One of the most important next steps for Inovio is to address the FDA’s concerns. The issue is related tothe shelf-life of parts of Inovio’s Cellectra 5PSP immunotherapy delivery device rather than VGX-3100 itself. Inovio said it planned to provide the requested information to the FDA by the end of 2016.

Inovio’s fortunes in the new year will hinge largely on two things: moving forward with the late-stage study of VGX-3100 and getting positive results from the early-stage testing of its Zika vaccine. My prediction is that one of these two will be Inovio’s biggest win of 2017.

10 stocks we like better than Inovio Pharmaceuticals
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