Blog | Friday, June 13, 2008

Skin patch targets common vacation spoiler

You can get one for motion sickness, so why not have one for diarrhea? The Lancet reports that a new vaccine skin patch appears to prevent or reduce the severity of traveler's diarrhea.

Phase II study participants were vaccinated with two patches (given 2-3 weeks apart) before travelling to Mexico or Guatemala. Half got patches with heat-labile enterotoxin from Enterotoxigenic Escherichia coli (ETEC), and half got placebo patches.

The lucky participants then got to track their stool output on cards during their vacation.....and, if they got diarrhea, to collect samples. What fun!

But it appears their sacrifice will benefit the rest of us: 21% of placebo patients had moderate to severe diarrhea, compared to 5% of vaccine patients. For severe diarrhea, it was 11% with placebo vs. 2% with vaccine. And those with the vaccine had diarrhea for just half a day vs. two days for the placebo folks.

The patch still needs to go through a Phase III study, of course, and isn't expected to be available until 2011, the Washington Post reports. Plan your vacation destinations accordingly.