Rotavirus vax campaign would save millions of lives

Each year, more than half a million children around the world die from rotavirus infection--more than half of them in sub-Saharan Africa. But now two new studies conclude that a widespread vaccination campaign in developing countries could save most of their lives.

Campaigns in Malawi and South Africa reduced the rate of rotavirus infections by 61 percent while another campaign in Mexico eliminated almost two thirds of the deaths caused by diarrheal disease. To effectively protect children, vaccine experts recommend that they get a shot between six and 15 weeks after birth. That can be a tough target to hit in developing countries, where medical care is spotty and supply shipments are irregular. But the study authors say there's no doubt that a vaccination campaign would have a major impact.

"A disease that may be a nuisance in the U.S. can be a killer in a poorer country," says Dr. Kathleen Neuzil, senior author of the African study. "Death from diarrheal disease in general is the second-leading cause of death among kids in developing nations."

- here's the story from HealthDay 

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