Chikungunya Current Affairs

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IMD to release Malaria and Chikungunya Alerts

The India Meteorological Department (IMD) has announced that it is working on a forecasting system that will give a 15-day warnings on the likelihood of a malaria or chikungunya outbreak across different regions of the country.

Salient Highlights

The services are aimed at providing custom, weather-related information to cope with challenges of a global warming and its associated impact of weather. Instances of extreme rainfall could mean instances of humid conditions and water logging that could precipitate vector-borne disease outbreaks.

IMD will release five-day and 15-day forecasts of heat-waves, cold waves and disease outbreaks.

IMD will offer this service by teaming up with the Medical Council of India and the Red Cross Society. IMD will customize the dynamical model for generating this service. The IMD’s National Climate Centre in Pune will be reorganised to offer such climate services. At present, the pune Centre is tasked with forecasting the monsoon and documenting monsoon-related statistics.

IMD is the principal agency responsible for meteorological observations, weather forecasting and seismology in India. It functions under the Union Ministry of Earth Sciences of the Government of India. It headquartered in New Delhi and operates hundreds of observation stations across India.

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Genetically Modified mosquito trials launched to control dengue, chikungunya and zika

Outdoor caged trials of genetically modified mosquitoes waere launched in Dawalwadi, Badnapur in Jalna district of Maharashtra to demonstrate the efficiency this technique to suppress wild female mosquito populations that transmit dengue, chikungunya and Zika.

The trials are conducted by Oxitec and uses the Release of Insects carrying Dominant Lethal genes (RIDL) technology.

Key Facts
  • Oxitec’s technology uses GM male Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that carry a dominant lethal gene. This gene is passed on to offspring after male GM mosquitoes mate with wild female mosquitoes.
  • The lethal gene in the offspring kills the larvae before they reach adulthood. Since male mosquitoes do not bite humans, the release of these GM mosquitoes will not increase the risk of dengue, chikungunya and Zika.
  • Oxitec’s mosquitoes were first released in Brazil were they have successfully reduced the local populations of mosquitoes by more than 90%, whereas insecticides only affect 30%.
  • Advantages: This strategy is considered as most eco-friendly solution so far to control the spread of infectious diseases as it only targets a specific mosquito strain and does not produce any toxic compounds. It has 99% efficiency to kill offspring.
Background

Dengue is estimated to infect 5.8 million people in India every year, costing the country over $1 billion annually. In recent times, outbreaks of Chikungunya, a mosquito borne viral disease have been increasingly reported in India. Both viral diseases are transmitted by female Aedes aegypti mosquitoes. The World Health Organization (WHO) has fully supported the genetically engineered mosquitoes during last year’s Zika outbreak.

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Researchers develop first Chikungunya Vaccine

Researchers from United States have developed the first vaccine for Chikungunya fever made from an insect-specific Eilat virus.

The newly-developed vaccine does not have any side effects on people, which makes it safe and effective for humans. Its clinical trials on mice and non-human primates show that it quickly produces a strong immune defence and completely protects them from disease when exposed to the chikungunya virus. 

Key Facts
  • Researchers had used live-attenuated Eilat virus clone to design this hybrid virus-based vaccine containing Chikungunya structural proteins.
  • The Eilat/Chikungunya vaccine was found to be structurally identical to natural chikungunya virus. Its single dose can produce neutralising antibodies that lasted for more than 290 days.
  • The antibodies provided complete protection against chikungunya in two different mouse models. In non-human primates, the vaccine elicited rapid and robust immunity.
  • The vaccines trials also showed that there was neither evidence of virus in the blood nor signs of illness such as fever after chikungunya virus infection in primates.

About Chikungunya

Chikungunya is a mosquito-borne virus that causes a disease. It is transmitted by Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus mosquitoes. Its symptoms are characterised by abrupt fever and severe joint pain, often in hands and feet, and may include headache, muscle pain, joint swelling or rash.  There is no specific antiviral drug treatment for chikungunya. There is no commercial chikungunya vaccine. Chikungunya treatment is directed primarily at relieving the symptoms, including the joint pain using anti-pyretics, optimal analgesics and fluids.

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