Typhoid vaccine protects younger children: study

Wed Jul 22, 2009 6:43pm EDT
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By Gene Emery

BOSTON (Reuters) - GlaxoSmithKline's Typherix vaccine shields children as young as 2 from typhoid fever, and widespread vaccination can even protect people who have not been given the shot, according to a study published on Wednesday.

The test, conducted in two wards of an Indian slum where about 60,000 people live, was designed to see how well the Vi-type vaccine works in youngsters age 2 to 5.

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.

At the end of 2004, 37,673 children and adults were inoculated with Typherix or, for comparison purposes, GlaxoSmithKline's Havrix vaccine for hepatitis A. Several companies make the typhoid vaccine.

It worked in 61 percent of the people exposed to the disease, said the team led by Dr. Dipika Sur of the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases in Kolkata, India.

It was most effective in children under 5, where the protection rate was 80 percent.

"This protection for children under the age of 5 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," the researchers wrote in the New England Journal of Medicine.

The protection level dropped to 56 percent for 5- to 14-year-olds, and was 46 percent for those 15 and over.   Continued...

<p>A nurse walks past typhoid fever patients, mostly children, as they recuperate in their makeshift beds along the corridors of the Jose P. Rizal medical center, a government hospital in Calamba city, Laguna province, south of Manila March 6, 2008. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco (PHILIPPINES)</p>