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St. Louis University tests vaccine for mosquito-borne virus

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

Researchers at St. Louis University's Center for Vaccine Development are already testing a swine flu vaccine. Now they're also conducting trials of vaccine for a mosquito-borne virus that affects more than 100 million people each year.

Dengue fever mostly sickens people in tropical countries and kills up to 20,000 annually. Symptoms of the virus include body aches and fever that can last for weeks.

Lead researcher Dr. Sarah George said the virus hasn't spread in the United States because not enough mosquitoes carry it. She said if many infected people come into the country, it could travel like the West Nile virus did.

"West Nile was a new virus to the United States 10 years ago, and in fact it was 10 years ago this week that West Nile was first reported in New York City. So in some ways we've been lucky, and our luck could run out."

George says cases of dengue fever have been reported in Hawaii and Texas.

The Center for Vaccine Development is the only U.S. institution testing this version of the vaccine.