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CBC: Norovirus vaccine shows promise

[2/20/2012] [Robinsan Jeyaratnam ]

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An experimental vaccine that protects against a nasty stomach virus that hits one in five people annually has shown promise in early clinical trials, researchers say.

The vaccine against norovirus developed by the Center for Infectious Diseases and Vaccinology at Arizona State University generated good immune response in early studies of a few hundred people, said Dr. Charles Arntzen, a member of the research team, at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in Vancouver.

Norovirus, which causes cramps, vomiting and diarrhea, is also known as "cruise ship virus," and is notorious for its ability to make hundreds of passengers sick at a time. Each year, it hits an estimated 20 per cent of the population and is responsible for millions of hospitalizations in North America.

Noroviruses are believed to cause about half of all food-borne disease outbreaks in the U.S. and 90 per cent of non-bacterial gastroenteritis worldwide

Sixty per cent of infections occur in long-term-care homes, and the disease can be particularly deadly for the elderly, said Jan Vinje, head of the gastroenteritis and respiratory viruses lab at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.

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