Researchers advance vaccine against Valley fever

Jul 07, 2009

Medical mycologists in The South Texas Center for Emerging Infectious Diseases (STCEID) and the Department of Biology at The University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) have significantly advanced the fight against San Joaquin Valley Fever, a respiratory infection of humans, commonly called Valley Fever, which is caused by the Coccidioides fungus. For the first time, the researchers have genetically engineered a live, attenuated vaccine that successfully protects mice against Valley Fever, known in scientific circles as coccidioidomycosis.

A live, attenuated vaccine is used as a preventative treatment based upon creation of a mutated form of the pathogen that is no longer capable of causing disease.

Coccidioides, a soil-dwelling fungus, is responsible for significantly increased numbers of respiratory infections among outdoor workers when compared to the general population. In addition, people with compromised T-cell immunity, the elderly and certain racial groups, such as African-Americans and Filipinos who live in the Southwestern United States, have an increased incidence of the infection's symptoms, caused by the inhalation of Coccidioides spores.

In approximately 40% of human cases, respiratory problems set in one to three weeks after inhalation. Although less than one percent of infected individuals experience severe symptoms, such as chronic-progressive pneumonia or meningitis, the incidence of reported primary pulmonary infection cases in Arizona and California is on the rise, having significantly increased in the last decade.

STCEID researchers at UTSA and Wilford Hall Medical Center at San Antonio's Lackland Air Force Base have long collaborated on Coccidioides studies in the hopes of developing a vaccine to better protect those who are exposed to it in the future. This most recent study has been funded by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the California HealthCare Foundation and the Margaret Batts Tobin Foundation.

"Respiratory infections caused by Coccidioides tend to escape the radar of most large pharmaceutical companies, because only about 100,000 cases are reported each year," said Garry Cole, professor of biology at UTSA and the study's principal investigator.

He adds, "But when I look at 100,000 cases, I see 100,000 faces looking back at me."

Source: University of Texas at San Antonio

Explore further: Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Swine flu cases up to 7; officials expand probe (Update)

Apr 21, 2009

(AP) -- Health officials are investigating a never-before-seen form of the flu that combines pig, bird and human viruses and which has infected seven people in California and Texas. All the victims recovered, but the cases ...

Hantavirus found in African wood mouse

Apr 18, 2006

Scientists have reported the discovery of the first African hantavirus, a type of rodent-borne virus that can cause life-threatening infections in humans.

Yellow fever outbreak reported in Paraguay

Feb 25, 2008

Health officials reported an outbreak of yellow fever in Paraguay, with seven confirmed cases in San Pedro and four as yet unconfirmed cases in San Lorenzo.

Virus death toll rises in Kenya

Jan 26, 2007

Officials in Kenya are trying to stop the spread of Rift Valley Fever, which has killed at least 148 people.

Recommended for you

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

26 minutes ago

The Ebola virus that has killed scores of people in Guinea this year is a new strain—evidence that the disease did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations, scientists report.

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

55 minutes ago

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Malaysia reports first Asian death from MERS virus

7 hours ago

A Malaysian man who went on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia has become the first death in Asia from Middle East respiratory syndrome, while the Philippines has isolated a health worker who tested positive for the deadly coronavirus.

User comments : 0

More news stories

Researchers see hospitalization records as additional tool

Comparing hospitalization records with data reported to local boards of health presents a more accurate way to monitor how well communities track disease outbreaks, according to a paper published April 16 in the journal PLOS ON ...

Ebola virus in Africa outbreak is a new strain

Scientists say that the Ebola (ee-BOH'-lah) virus that has killed scores of people this year in Guinea (GIH'-nee) is a new strain. That means it did not spread there from outbreaks in some other African nations.