World's Leading Health Experts Urge Countries to Use Newly Released Data to Prevent the Death of Millions of Children Due to Rotavirus

    Experts report on progress and explore promise of rotavirus vaccines

    ISTANBUL, Turkey, June 4 /CNW/ -- Over 350 of the world's leading
scientific experts, policymakers and leading public health professionals from
67 countries convened today during the 8th International Rotavirus Symposium
in Istanbul, Turkey, to present new data about rotavirus -- a disease which
causes acute diarrhea and often leads to death among young children.

    "Regardless of where they live, virtually all children become infected
with rotavirus by the age of three. Yet, 90 percent of child deaths due to
rotavirus occur in the world's poorest countries," said Dr. Ciro de Quadros,
of the Sabin Vaccine Institute.

    Roger Glass, of the Fogarty International Center, added, "Every country
affected by this disease should be using these new insights to have vigorous
discussions about the best ways to prevent this potential killer."

    The following data was presented at the Symposium on June 3 and 4:

    --  Rotavirus is responsible for an estimated 527,000 deaths each year
        among children under five years of age.
    --  Six countries in Africa and Asia account for 50 percent of all
        deaths. Those countries are India, Nigeria, the Democratic Republic
        of the Congo, Ethiopia, China and Pakistan.
    --  Rotavirus is responsible for 2 million hospitalizations per year
    --  Thirty-five to sixty percent of diarrhea hospitalizations in children
        under five years of age worldwide are due to rotavirus.

    "Progress is important because this disease strains the health systems of
countries already burdened with limited resources," said Umesh Parashar, of
the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

    Surveillance data is being collected in more than 50 countries. Findings
from many of these countries could be available within the next two years.

    "Despite the persistent strife among countries which we hear about almost
daily -- scientific, policy and public health leaders from 67 countries have
come together in common cause to prevent the deaths of millions of children,"
said Cristiana Toscano, of the World Health Organization (WHO).

    "We are excited to share with the world compelling new data and insights
about promising practices to prevent diarrheal disease -- including rotavirus
vaccines, which studies increasingly show to have a vital role in saving
children's lives," said John Wecker, of PATH, an international global health

For further information:

For further information: Ken Goldman (US), +1-202-338-8700, or Isil
Evgin  (Turkey), +90-212-270-5232, both for Sabin Vaccine Institute

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