Tuesday, May 21st, 2013
Four germs have been identified by a new study as the causes of severe–and often fatal–diarrhea in infants and children worldwide, leading researchers to call for better dissemination of the vaccine against rotavirus, one of the four germs. The New York Times has more:
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Diarrhea is a major killer of children, with an estimated 800,000 deaths each year; it has many causes, and doctors want to focus on the most common ones to bring death rates down.
The study, financed by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and published by The Lancet, found that the most common causes were rotavirus; a protozoan called Cryptosporidium; and two bacteria, Shigella and a toxin-producing strain of E. coli. In some areas, other pathogens, including the bacteria that causes cholera, were also important.
The study followed more than 9,000 children with diarrhea seen at clinics in Bangladesh, Gambia, India, Kenya, Mali, Mozambique and Pakistan, and, for comparison, more than 13,000 children without the disease. The children with diarrhea were more likely to have stunted growth and eight times as likely to die during a two-month follow-up period.
Diarrhea seemed to be linked to chronic malnutrition, which causes gut inflammation that can make it harder to digest food.
The prominent role of Cryptosporidium came as a surprise to the authors; it had been best known as a killer of adults whose immune systems were suppressed by AIDS.
In an editorial accompanying the study, other experts said rotavirus vaccine could save many lives.
Thursday, September 22nd, 2011
A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has found that the rotavirus vaccine, which protects infants and young children against bacteria that causes severe diarrhea, significantly reduces the cost of providing health care for kids.
The CDC says that before vaccines were introduced in 2006, rotavirus was responsible for about 400,000 visits to doctor’s offices, 200,000 emergency room visits, 55,000 to 70,000 hospitalizations, and 20 to 60 deaths each year in children under 5 years old. By the 2008-2009 rotavirus “season” (January to June), the study found that vaccinated children had 44 to 58 percent fewer diarrhea-related hospitalizations and 37 to 48 percent fewer emergency room visits for diarrhea than unvaccinated children.
The CDC estimates health care savings of $278 million, directly attributable to the success of the vaccine.
“This study provides more evidence that vaccinating against rotavirus substantially reduces suffering and health care costs for this common childhood illness,” said Dr. Mark Pallansch, director of CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases, in a statement. “As more children get vaccinated against rotavirus, we expect to see even greater reductions in disease among all age groups.”
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Tuesday, September 6th, 2011
Health officials say four children were infected with a new strain of swine flu, MSNBC.com reports.
All four children, three girls and one boy, have recovered or are recovering, and were infected through contact with pigs. The virus does not appear to spread easily from person to person, experts at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say.
MSNBC.com gave these details about symptoms in two of the children:
In July, the boy was taken to a hospital emergency department with flulike symptoms of fever, cough and diarrhea, where a respiratory test confirmed influenza A (H3). The boy, who has multiple chronic health conditions, was briefly hospitalized. He had not been directly exposed to swine but a caretaker had been in direct contact with swine in the weeks before the boy became ill.
In August, [one of the girls] was also taken to a hospital emergency department with similar symptoms and discharged. A few days before she became sick with a fever, cough and lethargy, she reportedly visited an agricultural fair where she was exposed to swine.
This brand-new flu strain picked up a gene from the H1N1 strain that set off the flu pandemic in 2009 and 2010. Gene sharing among flu viruses is common, and causes problems when it creates novel strains to which people lack immunity, The Washington Post explained.
The new swine flu is unlikely to trigger a pandemic the way H1N1 did, experts say. CDC spokesman Tom Skinner told MSNBC.com, “There’s no evidence of sustained transmission from human to human.”
MSNBC also reported that in the first two cases, both children received flu vaccines in September 2010, which protected them against H1N1, but wouldn’t protect against the new virus.
(image via: http://www.drtalented.com)
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