Four to six million deaths per year worldwide are caused by diarrhea. Dehydration from diarrhea is the second most common cause of infant mortality around the world. The number of diarrheal episodes in the first two years of life has been shown to affect growth, fitness, cognitive function, and school performance.
Diarrhea is also an important health matter for travelers, especially those visiting developing countries. On average, 30-50% of travelers to high-risk destinations will develop travelers’ diarrhea. Diarrhea is the leading cause of illness among U.S. Forces overseas.
In the long term, access to clean water, better hygiene, and adequate nutrition would have the greatest impact on diarrheal diseases. Since these goals are difficult to achieve, immunizations against specific diarrheal pathogens are the best hope.
The leading causes of bacterial diarrhea in both children and travelers are the enteric bacteria Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), Shigella, and Campylobacter.
Click here to read about vaccine trials at the CIR for enteric bacterial infections.