A joint effort from Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, Baylor College of Medicine, Emory University School of Medicine, University of Rochester Medical Center, Maryland School of Medicine, and several other laboratories, is working with an experimental norovirus vaccine which is known to decrease some symptoms of gastrointestinal infection by more than half. The information was presented at IDWeek 2013 infectious diseases conference in San Francisco.
According to David I. Bernstein, lead author at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center, and his colleagues, the investigational norovirus vaccine (most common RNA virus) is reported to reduce vomiting and/or diarrhea by 52 percent.
Norovirus is responsible for almost 90 percent of epidemic non-bacterial outbreaks of gastroenteritis globally and can affect all ages. Generally, it is transmitted by tainted food or water, person-to-person contact, or through aerosolization of the virus. In the United States, norovirus is the leading cause of gastrointestinal infection and there is no treatment or cure.
According to the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA), sponsors of IDWeek 2013, “Significant outbreaks occur in health care facilities, childcare centers and other places where people are in close quarters, including in the military and on cruise ships. Each year, 19 to 21 million Americans – one in 15 – are infected and as many as 800 die, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, one recent evaluation reports that the overall cost of the disease in the United States is $5.5 billion annually.”
In a randomized, multi-center trial, 98 volunteers drank norovirus contaminated water. Fifty volunteers were injected with norovirus vaccine and the other 48 were given placebo injection. Twenty-six members of the vaccine group (52 percent) became infected and 29 participants (60 percent) of the placebo group became infected. Twenty participants (42 percent) who received placebo injection came down with mild, moderate or severe vomiting and/or diarrhea. Ten participants (20 percent) who received the norovirus vaccine experienced symptoms (52 percent reduction).
According to Bernstein, “Norovirus truly is a global issue and most if not everyone has experienced it to some degree. The results of our study are promising and our next step is to test this vaccine in a real-world setting. If the vaccine continues to prove as effective as our initial results indicate, it could be used for specific populations or situations – in those at a higher risk of severe disease such as the elderly or at high risk for infection or transmission such as in day care, people going on a cruise, those in nursing homes or in the military. Or it could be offered to everyone, since all of us are exposed at one time or another.”