Published On: Thu, Jul 18th, 2013

Saint Louis University looking for volunteers for plague vaccine

On average,  in the United States, there are about seven cases of plague annually, according to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) data, in other words, it’s pretty rare.  The rare cases of plague are most commonly reported from the southwestern states, particularly New Mexico, Arizona, and Colorado.


Yersinia pestis bacteria, which was grown on a medium of sheep’s blood agar (SBA)  Image/CDC

Yersinia pestis bacteria, which was grown on a medium of sheep’s blood agar (SBA) Image/CDC

However, with the agent of plague, Yersinia pestis, being one of the agents of bioterrorism officials are concerned about, researchers are looking to develop a plague vaccine in the case of a bioterror attack where the most lethal type of plague, pneumonic plague, would be a concern.

Researchers at Saint Louis University’s (SLU) Vaccine Development Center are looking for healthy volunteers for an experimental plague vaccine study.

According to SLU researchers, the purpose of this study is to look at the safety and tolerability of an experimental vaccine.  

They also point out that the vaccine has not been given to people before and you cannot get an infection of plague from the vaccine.

Plague is an infectious disease that affects rodents, certain other animals and humans. It is caused by the Yersinia pestis bacteria. These bacteria are found in many areas of the world, including the United States, according to the CDC.

People most commonly acquire plague when they are bitten by a flea that is infected with the plague bacteria. People can also become infected from direct contact with infected tissues or fluids while handling an animal that is sick with or that has died from plague. Finally, people can become infected from inhaling respiratory droplets after close contact with cats and humans with pneumonic plague.

There are three types of plague, with varying severity–bubonic, septicemic and pneumonic. Pneumonic is the type that would be of most concern during a bioterror attack.

Patients develop fever, headache, weakness, and a rapidly developing pneumonia with shortness of breath, chest pain, cough, and sometimes bloody or watery mucous. Pneumonic plague may develop from inhaling infectious droplets or from untreated bubonic or septicemic plague that spreads to the lungs. The pneumonia may cause respiratory failure and shock. Pneumonic plague is the only form of plague that can be spread from person to person (by infectious droplets).

SLU researchers  say it is the most dangerous form of the disease and is generally fatal if an individual does not receive appropriate treatment within 18 hours after the onset of respiratory symptoms.

Researchers running the study say to participate  you must be healthy and 18 to 45 years of age.

The study involves 10 scheduled visits and 3 phone calls over about 13 months. You will be reimbursed $200.00 per vaccination visit, $75 per follow-up visit, and $10 per phone call.

The Center also has studies for meningococcal, smallpox and pneumococcal vaccines.

For contact info, check this link.

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About the Author

- Writer, Co-Founder and Executive Editor of The Global Dispatch. Robert has been covering news in the areas of health, world news and politics for a variety of online news sources. He is also the Editor-in-Chief of the website, Outbreak News Today and hosts the podcast, Outbreak News Interviews on iTunes, Stitcher and Spotify Robert is politically Independent and a born again Christian Follow @bactiman63

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