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New, Cheaper Vaccine To Prevent Rotavirus Could Save Lives Of Thousands Of Children [VIDEO]

Update Date: Mar 27, 2017 09:36 AM EDT

A new vaccine that can last for up to six months unrefrigerated has been found effective in preventing rotavirus in a trial in Niger.

The Serum Institute of India developed the vaccine to prevent rotavirus, and will be calling it Rotasiil. Unlike earlier vaccines, it does not require refrigeration.

In developing countries, where the power supply is unreliable, the need to refrigerate or freeze vaccines renders them inaccessible to poor communities affected by the disease. Rotasiil is reconstituted with liquid before use.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), almost half of the mortality among children is in India, Pakistan, Nigeria and the Republic of Congo. There are 215,000 children who die of rotavirus each year. It is the leading cause of death due to diarrhea of children under 2 years old.

Volunteers of Doctors Without Borders administered three doses of Rotasiil to 1,780 children in Niger. The researchers found that it was 67 percent effective in the trial.

There have been previous vaccines to prevent rotavirus such as Rotarix and Rotateq but their effectiveness was only at 61 and 39 percent respectively. The cost of three doses of Rotasiil will be about $6-lower than Rotarix which is $5 for two doses and Rotateq, $10.50 for three doses, the New York Times reported.

Infection is spread when the stool of a child with rotavirus touches the mouth of another child through touching surfaces, eating and drinking contaminated food and water, and not washing the hands after using the toilet or before eating.

Fever, vomiting and abdominal pains are symptoms of the disease, along with having watery diarrhea occurring several times a day. These symptoms can last from three to nine days.

Parents need to watch out for dehydration, a potentially fatal condition in rare cases. Lethargy, dry skin and mouth, thirst, sunken eyes and absence of tears are symptoms of dehydration, according to the MedicineNet.

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