Source: Washington Post | Page: A2
By: Brown, David
A new report in The Lancet shows that just four kinds of intestinal pathogens are behind about 40 percent of all cases of childhood diarrhea, which takes the lives of hundreds of thousands of children every year. According to the Global Enteric Multicenter Study, which included 9,500 children under age five with diarrhea in seven countries, rotavirus was responsible for about one-fifth of all the cases. The other three leading causes of diarrhea were Cryptosporidium, Escherichia coli, and Shigella bacteria. Cryptosporidium is commonly linked to illness in people with suppressed immune systems, especially AIDS patients; however, the researchers found that it also caused widespread illness in areas with both high and low rates of HIV infection. Mortality in the children with diarrhea in the three months after their illness was nine-fold higher than in healthy children, the study found. These children also fell further down the growth curve, at least for a few months. American children have been receiving an oral rotavirus vaccine since 2006. The GAVI Alliance, a public-private partnership, is working to increase low-income countries’ access to the vaccine, and it hopes 40 countries in the developing world will have it by 2015.