Vaccinations represent one of medicine’s scientific triumphs, saving millions of lives every year. They are safe, effective and often inexpensive. A medical journal, the Journal of Infectious Diseases, has just reported that since the rotavirus vaccine was introduced here in 2006, hospitalizations for gastroenteritis declined significantly. While it is hardly shocking that the vaccine works, scientists were surprised how effective the vaccine truly is,
Two major studies published this year already demonstrated that the vaccine saves lives abroad. Now, we have evidence that the vaccine’s benefit is both foreign and domestic. For example, the recent study estimates that the vaccine prevented 55,000 hospitalizations in America in 2008, nothing to ‘sneeze’ at!
Rotavirus is a concern to international travelers because the virus is present throughout the world, particularly in developing countries in Africa, South America and Southeast Asia. The disease is highly contagious. The virus is a common cause of gastroenteritis, an acute illness characterized by nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. A one word description of the illness is ‘miserable‘.
When you meet with your travel doctor to discuss travel vaccinations and other health and safety advice, find out if rotavirus is a common guest at your destinations. While your physician may not advise the rotatvirus vaccine, there are common sense steps you can take to reduce your risk of contracting the disease.
It’s much more pleasant to read about gastroenteritis here on the Travelogue than to experience it personally. Trust me; I’m a doctor.