Magazine article Drug Topics

New Rotavirus Vaccine Protects Kids against a Viral Diarrhea

Magazine article Drug Topics

New Rotavirus Vaccine Protects Kids against a Viral Diarrhea

Article excerpt

A squirt in the mouth may be all that's needed to prevent a highly contagious virus from causing diarrheal mayhem in childrenthanks to the recent approval of Rotashield rotavirus vaccine.

Manufactured by Wyeth-Ayerst Laboratories, the product is a live, orally administered tetravalent immunization intended for use in the prevention of rotavirus gastroenteritis, the most common cause of severe and sometimes fatal diarrhea in the pediatric population. Except for supportive therapy, such as acetaminophen and liquids, there is no current treatment available for the viral infection.

According to Peter Paradiso, M.D., v.p. of scientific affairs and research strategy for Wyeth-Ayerst, the new vaccine is approximately 50% effective against any rotavirus infection. "In the more severe cases, however, the product is 80% effective, and in the most severe infections-those requiring hospitalizationsRotashield has been 100% effective" as an immunization, he noted.

Just why does the vaccine become more efficacious as the infection becomes more dreadful? Paradiso explained that Rotashield does not prevent infection completely, the vaccine just modifies it. "The virus can still [penetrate] the intestines and initiate an infection, but before it can expand, the immune system-having been primed by the vaccine-kicks back and limits that infection." As a result, immunized children may still suffer from that modest initial infection but are less likely to progress to severe gastroenteritis.

Paradiso claimed that patients tolerated the vaccine well. …

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