U.S. government approves vaccine for diarrhea infection in infants

A new vaccine that protects infants from rotavirus, which causes diarrhea and dehydration that causes hundreds of thousands of deaths a year in developing countries, received U.S. government approval Friday, the vaccine's maker said.

RotaTeq, made by Merck and Co., prevented at least 98 percent of severe cases of gastroenteritis, or intestinal inflammation, in trials.

In 1999, a different rotavirus vaccine, made by Wyeth, was pulled from the U.S. market after it was linked to a small increase in intussusception, a rare, life-threatening blockage or twisting of the intestine.

Merck officials have said they would conduct a follow-up study to track any long-term effects of their vaccine, which has been in development since 1993.

In the United States, the virus sickens about 2.7 million children younger than 5, sends up to 70,000 to the hospital and causes 20 to 70 deaths each year.

RotaTeg is a genetically engineered, three-dose oral vaccine and protects against five common rotavirus strains, reports AP.


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