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Post-Exposure Marburg Vaccine Protects Against Lethal Virus

Vaccinated monkeys fail to develop hemorrhagic fever

FRIDAY, April 28 (HealthDay News) -- A vaccine previously shown to prevent Marburg virus infection has now been shown to protect against development of deadly hemorrhagic fever in rhesus monkeys when given as a post-exposure prophylaxis, according to a report published April 27 online in The Lancet.

Thomas W. Geisbert, Ph.D., from the US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases in Fort Detrick, Md., and colleagues used an engineered form of the vesicular stomatitis virus, expressing a Marburg virus surface protein, to vaccinate five rhesus monkeys around 20 to 30 minutes after being injected with a lethal dose of Marburg. Three monkeys were injected with control prophylactic virus.

While the control infection was 100 percent lethal as expected, all Marburg vaccinated animals remained alive and healthy at 80 days post-infection. The vaccinated animals developed neutralizing antibodies to Marburg, had undetectable plasma viral levels of the virus, and failed to develop clinical symptoms of Marburg hemorrhagic fever.

In accompanying editorial, Stephan Becker writes that while the vaccination provides a robust response against the potential bioweapon, it will probably not become commercialized because of the low number of Marburg infections. This and other vaccinations may be useful for protection of laboratory and health care workers who become exposed, however.

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