Université Laval’s Infectious Disease Research Centre (IDRC) and Centre de recherche du CHU de Québec-Université Laval (CHU) will jointly conduct the first clinical study for a Zika vaccine in Canada.

The Zika virus is carried by Aedes mosquitoes, which cause symptoms such as mild fever, skin rash, conjunctivitis, muscle and joint pain, malaise or headache that can last between two to seven days.

Infection of a pregnant woman can cause the fetus to develop microcephaly, an abnormal smallness of the head causing incomplete brain development.

CHU president and CEO Gertrude Bourdon said: “There is no existing treatment or vaccine for Zika.

“The vaccine currently being developed will be administered to humans for the first time as part of the clinical study.

“CHU de Québec-Université Laval is one of the three leading research centres involved in the vaccine study and we are very proud of that.”

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A Zika virus disease outbreak in 2015 affected more than four million people on the South and North American continents, causing symptoms such as fever and conjunctival congestion.

"The vaccine currently being developed will be administered to humans for the first time as part of the clinical study."

IDRC director and Université Laval’s faculty of medicine professor and doctor of microbiology Gary Kobinger said: "We’re very proud to be part of the first international team in the world to complete all of the steps in the regulatory process and to be authorised by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Health Canada to develop a Zika vaccine."

The clinical test will be led by Gary Kobinger, Dr Sylvie Trottier and her team to test the new Zika vaccine at the Canadian site in Quebec City.

IDRC is planning to recruit healthy adult volunteers in the study.

The company has announced the commencement of enrolling people in the study, which will continue over the next few days.

Image: Zika virus transmitting Aedes aegypti mosquito. Photo: courtesy of Muhammad Mahdi Karim via Wikipedia.