Researchers from The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston have developed the world’s first oral vaccine against salmonella poisoning. They published their findings in the November edition of the journal Frontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Salmonella is estimated to cause more than a million illnesses throughout the United States every year, with 15,000 hospitalizations and more than 400 deaths. For every reported case, there are approximately 39 undiagnosed infections. The illness can last up to one week and, in most cases, patients will recover without treatment. Common symptoms include diarrhoea, fever and abdominal cramps. In severe cases, particularly in the elderly, in children or those with weakened immune systems, the illness can lead to hospitalization or death.
Salmonella infection is particularly dangerous for children under the age of three and people with weak immune systems. They are at increased risk of invasive non-typhoidal salmonellosis, which causes systemic infection. Until now, there was no vaccine available for salmonella poisoning.
Antibiotics are the most commonly used treatment for salmonella infections, but antibiotic resistance has become a serious concern in recent years. Multidrug resistant Salmonella bacteria are responsible for a full 10 percent of all infections. There are many different strains of the Salmonella bacteria, and it’s becoming increasingly hard to avoid contaminated foods. For example, according to a Yahoo article, at least six products in the United States have been recalled due to possible bacterial contamination in December alone.
The UTMB scientists had previously developed potential vaccines from three genetically mutated versions of the salmonella bacteria. The vaccines, administered via injections, were shown to protect mice against lethal doses of salmonella. However, the researchers say oral vaccination is the simplest and least invasive way to protect people against salmonella infection.
"In the current study, we analyzed the immune responses of mice that received the vaccination by mouth as well as how they responded to a lethal dose of salmonella,” Ashok Chopra, UTMB professor of microbiology and immunology, said in a press statement. "We found that the orally administered vaccines produced strong immunity against salmonella, showing their potential for future use in people."
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