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Vaccine patch combats diarrhoea

Travellers trying to avoid diarrhoea can now be vaccinated using a new type of patch.

The patch carries a small amount of E.coli toxin to strengthen the immune system. Those who do contract the ailment will have shorter and less severe episodes than otherwise, according to a report.

The patch was developed by scientists after the administering of anti-E.coli toxins using oral, nasal or injection vaccines proved to be too toxic.

E.coli is the leading cause of diarrhoea in travellers to endemic area and in young children living in developing countries. About 27 million travellers and 210 million children are hit by the effects of acute diarrhoea every year, which include nausea, vomiting, abdominal cramps and dehydration.

E.coli is transmitted by contaminated food or drink, where they enter the small intestine and secrete heat-labile enterotoxin (LT).

The study, published in the Lancet, found that the LT vaccine had some protective effect against moderate-to-severe travellers' diarrhoea of any cause, severe diarrhoea and moderate-to-severe ETEC diarrhoea.

Authors Dr Gregory Glenn and Dr Sarah Frech, from IOMAI, US, concluded: "This study suggests that transcutaneous immunisation with LT in a patch could protect travellers against this common, deliberating ailment."

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Will you be recommending the new patch to your patients? Your comments: (Terms and conditions apply)

"This vaccine is not yet on the market. I think the article is a little misleading - it has just been trialed but is not licensed or available in the UK." - Carolyn Driver, Cheshire