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University of Iowa News Release

Jan. 5, 2006

Investigators To Study Vaccine Against Japanese Encephalitis

Investigators at the University of Iowa College of Public Health and the University Hygienic Laboratory (UHL) are conducting a study of a new, investigational Japanese encephalitis vaccine. The vaccine is experimental and has not been approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for general use.

Currently there is only one licensed vaccine in the United States, Australia and Europe for the prevention of Japanese encephalitis. Compared to the old vaccine, this new vaccine appears to be longer acting, better tolerated, and it does not require booster immunizations.

Greg Gray, M.D., professor of epidemiology in the UI College of Public Health, and James Gill, M.D., zoonotic disease specialist at UHL, will lead the study.

To qualify, participants must be at least 18 years of age and have never been infected with, nor vaccinated against, Japanese encephalitis.

Study participants will receive either the active investigational vaccine or a placebo (inactive saline vaccination). The study will involve a total of five visits to the clinic during a two-month period and then a six-month follow-up phone call. Participants will be asked to keep a record of their daily temperature and symptoms throughout the study. 

Japanese encephalitis occurs in many countries of Asia, including China, Korea, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Vietnam, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Nepal, Indonesia, Laos, Japan and Malaysia. It also causes infections in Northern Australia.

While most Japanese encephalitis infections do not cause any illness, symptoms can include a flu-like illness with fever, chills, tiredness and headache. The symptoms can progress to paralysis, seizures, coma, serious brain damage and death. Like West Nile virus, Japanese encephalitis is transmitted by mosquitoes. Most cases occur in children less than 10 years old, but any traveler in areas where Japanese encephalitis occurs could become infected. 

Compensation for study participants is available. For more information, call 319-384-5064 or toll free 800-348-4692.

STORY SOURCE: University of Iowa Health Science Relations, 5139 Westlawn, Iowa City, Iowa 52242-1178

MEDIA CONTACT: David Pedersen, (319) 335-8032, david-pedersen@uiowa.edu.