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Typhoid Vaccine Effectively Prevents Disease In Children, Study Finds

“A typhoid vaccine proved effective in the slums of India, where it not only helped prevent infection in children who received it, but also those in close contact who were unvaccinated,” according to a New England Journal of Medicine study published on Thursday, the AP/Washington Post reports (Chang, 7/22).

The study, “conducted in two wards of an Indian slum where about 60,000 people live,” sought to investigate the Vi typhoid vaccine’s efficacy in children between the ages of 2 and 5, Reuters writes. “Doubt about its effectiveness in this younger age group is one reason the shots, which cost as little as 50 cents, are not widely given to prevent typhoid. The potentially deadly disease comes from contaminated food and water, and kills 216,000 to 600,000 people worldwide each year,” according to the news service (Emery, 7/22).

Researchers found that the vaccine was 80 percent effective in preventing typhoid fever among the children in the study. The vaccine also offered 44 percent protection among “unvaccinated neighbors who were in contact with the immunized children,” according to the AP/Washington Post. “Overall, the vaccine was 61 percent effective,” the newspaper reports.

Though typhoid fever is treatable with antibiotics, new drug-resistant strains have arisen (7/22). In addition, “Safe and effective vaccines exist but are used mainly by wealthy travellers to developing countries rather than by poor residents,” AFP/Google.com writes (7/23).

According to the AP/Washington Post, the study was funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and coordinated by the International Vaccine Institute (IVI). GlaxoSmithKline donated the vaccine used in the research (7/22).

In an IVI statement, IVI Director-General John Clemens said, “The protection for children under the age of five years is important because this age group has been shown to be at high risk for typhoid fever in many areas where the disease is endemic” (7/22). In a related NEJM commentary, Myron Levine of the University of Maryland School of Medicine wrote, “The time has come to implement use of these vaccines vigorously and monitor the effect of such intervention,” according to Reuters (7/22).

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