Dengue Vaccine Use Should Be Restricted: WHO

Use of the vaccine for dengue should be used "exclusively or almost exclusively in people who have already been infected with dengue," the World Health Organization's independent vaccines group says.

After a two-day meeting this week, the group also called for creation of test that can quickly tell if people have previously been sickened by dengue, the Associated Press reported.

The maker of the world's only licensed dengue vaccine, Sanofi Pasteur, warned late last year that people who had never been sickened by the mosquito-borne virus before were at risk of more severe dengue illness after getting the vaccine.

After Sanofi's announcement, the Philippines stopped its dengue immunization program, which was the world's first national vaccination program for the disease. Earlier this year, the Philippines said the vaccine may have been a factor in the cases of three people who died of dengue even though they'd received the vaccine, the AP reported.

About half the world's population is at risk of dengue, which is found in tropical and sub-tropical climates and causes symptoms such as joint pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash. In serious cases, dengue can cause breathing problems, severe bleeding and organ failure.

About 96 million people develop dengue illness every year, according to WHO.

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