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Four Intestinal Microbes Responsible For Nearly Half Of All Childhood Diarrhea Cases, Study Shows

“Four intestinal bugs are responsible for nearly half of all cases of childhood diarrhea, which kills about 800,000 children around the world each year,” according to the findings of “a three-year project designed to give researchers and public health officials a clearer picture of a condition responsible for about 10 percent of deaths of children under age five,” the Washington Post reports. “The leading cause — rotavirus, responsible for about 20 percent of cases — can be prevented by a vaccine that is only now starting to be used in developing countries,” the newspaper writes (Brown, 5/13). The Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS), coordinated by the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Center for Vaccine Development and published Monday in The Lancet, “is the largest study ever conducted on diarrheal diseases in developing countries, enrolling more than 20,000 children from seven sites across Asia and Africa,” a University of Maryland School of Medicine Center for Vaccine Development press release states (5/13).

“In addition to mapping the microbial causes, the study looked at the consequences of diarrhea in young children,” finding “[a]bout two percent of children with ‘moderate-to-severe’ cases died in the three months after they became ill,” the Washington Post adds (5/13). “[U]ntil now, there’s been very little reliable data on the microbes behind all this mortality, as well as their precise effects on children’s health around the world,” Science magazine’s “Science Shots” blog notes (Wade, 5/13). The Lancet provides an infographic (.pdf) depicting data from the report (5/13).