Vaccine could prevent traveller's
of Article: http://www.ctv.ca/servlet/ArticleNews/story/CTVNews/20090424/td_vaccine_090424/20090424?hub=Health
CTV.ca News Staff
An Ontario research group has teamed up with the U.S. Navy to
come up with a vaccine that could prevent a common and unpleasant
affliction for tourists.
A team from the University of Guelph announced on Tuesday they
have come up with a sugar-based vaccination that may prevent
"traveller's diarrhea," also known as TD.
TD is caused by the campylobacter jejuni bacteria and is
usually caught by eating uncooked food, especially chicken and beef, or by
drinking water contaminated by feces.
"Usually 50 people out of 100,000 obtain food poisoning
from campylobacter on a regular basis, especially in developing
countries," said Mario Monteiro, a researcher at the University of
Guelph, to CTV Southwestern Ontario.
Monteiro has researched a vaccine for the bacteria for almost
two decades and his work is partly inspired by personal experience. Four
years ago, Monteiro contracted TD on a trip to Mexico.
In an email to CTV.ca, Monteiro said he chose to create a
vaccine for C. jejuni because "it is a major source of food poisoning
in the developing world and the U.S. military... the recent appearance of
antibiotic resistant bacterial strains has now created a need for this type
He added he was approached by the U.S. Navy to collaborate on
the vaccine because of his experience of working with vaccines.
American tests of the vaccine on monkeys showed a 100 per cent
success rate, meaning no monkeys fell ill. While this research clears the
way for human trials, the vaccine is about 10 years away from public use.
In the email, Monteiro explained that the vaccine works by
increasing the amount of antibodies that attack the bacteria by targeting
the sugar it produces.
While C. jejuni is commonly acquired by tourists in tropical
countries such as Mexico or Thailand, it can also strike closer to home. In
2008, the bacteria caused more than 200 cases of food poisoning at a B.C.
The FDA reports that C. jejuni is the largest cause of food
poisoning in the U.S., more then salmonella and shigella (the cause of
dysentery) combined. It reports that C. jejuni causes two to four million infections
a year in the U.S. alone. It also plays a role in triggering Guillain-Barré
syndrome, a disease where the body attacks its nervous system.
Monteiro thinks that the vaccine would indirectly prevent that
While there is currently no vaccine for TD, there are several
treatments for it. Over the counter medications such as Pepto-Bismol and
Imodium both lessen its effects. But the U.S.-based Center for Disease
Control reports that TD doesn't last very long, with most cases over in a
couple days, even without treatment.
TD isn't the only ailment that Monteiro is interested in
fighting. He's also working on a vaccine for C. difficile, the
diarrhea-causing bacterium that's killed over 2,000 people in Quebec since
a report from CTV Southwestern Ontario