First ever vaccine for Hand, Foot and Mouth disease is now out

By Enozia Vakil , May 29, 2013 10:08 AM EDT

A team of Chinese researchers have successfully developed a vaccination to prevent the Hand, foot and mouth disease caused by a particular strain of enterovirus. Infection caused due to this enterovirus, if allowed to spread over a period of time, can cause deadly infection of the membranes of the brain (encephalitis) and spinal cord (meningitis).

This infection may also cause rashes and blisters around the hands, feet and the mouth, hence the name.

In 2009, an outbreak in China that claimed the lives of 353 people, and affected more than 1.2 million, which literally shook the world. A vaccination to prevent this disease, and such epidemics from arising again was needed, and thankfully, a group of researchers from the Jiangsu province came to the rescue.

These researchers have tested a vaccine made from deactivated enterovirus 71 (EV71), which is responsible for this Hand, foot and mouth disease by injecting them in kids between 6 and 35 months of age. This new vaccine, they discovered, managed to prevent the Hand, foot and mouth disease in around 90% cases.

"Infection with EV71 is of particular concern because it can cause severe disease and even death in children. The EV71 vaccine could help prevent hospital admissions and severe cases," the researchers said.

However, just this single vaccination cannot assure the complete eradication of the Hand, foot and mouth disease, simply due to the fact that this disease is not just caused by the enterovirus, but also by a group of other viruses such as Coxsackievirus A16 and even other strains of EV7.

The researchers too, warn that "The EV71 vaccine might have little part in reducing the overall incidence of HFMD, even by universal mass immunization of children." However, this very initiative, though small, may pave way for a number of other researches and developments to ensure complete eradication of the disease.

Furthermore, this vaccine has also demonstrated a wonderful 100 percent efficiency against EV71 associated hospitalization, "suggesting that it could have a significant impact on public health by preventing severe outcomes of EV71 infection," the authors said.

The study has been published in the Lancet. 

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