Chikungunya is a debilitating inflammatory virus carried by mosquitoes. The University of Iowa is one of three sites in the U.S. that is enrolling participants for a clinical trial of an experimental vaccine for chikungunya. The illness has been found in the U.S. and in Iowa, but it is not currently a widespread concern across the country. Iowa's State Epidemiologist Patricia Quinlisk says that, "most of the people who going to be at risk are people who travel particularly to tropical areas." In this River to River segment, host Ben Kieffer is joined by Quinlisk, as well as University of Iowa professor of internal medicine, Patricia Winokur, who explains how the vaccine was developed and how the trials are conducted. Also joining the conversation is assistant professor of entomology at Iowa State University, Ryan Smith. He studies mosquitoes and how they transmit disease. This summer he will continue work on trapping and testing mosquitoes in Iowa.
A record 136 Iowans were diagnosed with HIV in 2016. The Iowa Department of Public Health says this is probably not due to an increased rate in transmissions, but rather likely an outcome of additional funding and social media efforts to encourage Iowans to get tested.
The department admits it doesn’t know how many Iowans were tested for HIV last year. But data shows a larger percentage of people diagnosed were in an early stage of the disease, meaning more HIV-positive individuals aren’t waiting until they became sick to find out if they’ve contracted the virus.