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Late vaccination ‘could still control cholera outbreaks’

cholera.jpgCholera outbreaks can be mitigated by the use of vaccination after they have begun, according to two new studies. This issue is currently at the top of the research agenda for many scientists, as controversy over plans to roll out a vaccination campaign in Haiti continues.

Despite misgivings from a number of experts, health officials in Haiti are pushing forward with a widespread vaccination campaign (see: Cholera vaccine plan splits experts). In Haiti the government is pushing for wide rollout of a major vaccination programme. However, some experts have expressed caution and pushed for a smaller pilot to allow researchers to determine how best to conduct vaccination during established outbreaks.

Now a brace of studies published in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases give succour to those pushing vaccination.

In the first, a team led by Anna Lopez of the International Vaccine Institute in Seoul report that killed oral cholera vaccines appeared to offer some protection during a 2007-08 outbreak in Vietnam. In the second paper another team from the institute, led by Rita Reyburn, reports that the use of cholera vaccines during an outbreak in Zimbabwe could have saved 1,695 lives, and concludes that “reactive vaccine use can prevent cholera cases and is a rational response to cholera outbreaks in endemic and non-endemic settings”.

However Andrea Vicari, of the Pan American Health Organization, told SciDev.Net that the Reyburn paper was being unrealistic in assuming that millions of vaccines doses could be ready for use within weeks. Vicari also questions whether the findings apply to Haiti, telling the website, “Haiti’s outbreak is arguably much more explosive than the epidemic case of Zimbabwe modelled in the paper.”

Image credit: Spencer Platt/Getty Images


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    chris said:

    I am a parent of an autistic diagnosed child. My son is now five years old, he was diagnosed at the age of three. I know this is a controversial issue, and as with most controversial issues there or truths on both sides of this dispute. One thing I do know is that I know my child. As with most parents I know what every facial expression means. I know by the look on his face if he is sad, I know if he is happy, I know if he is mad, I know if he does not feel good. I also know that I watched my child change they day he had his vaccination, never to be the same again. This once happy, giggling carefree child within hours of his vaccinations changed. He became distant, irritated, irrational and inconsolable. He would not longer look us in the eyes as he done just days earlier. The hardest part of this journey has been the blatant disregard as we told people what we witnessed our child change in the blink of an eye. They claim that the vaccinations are safe and that it is just coincidence, and that we have made this up so that we have someone or something to blame for our child’s diagnosis. I have had people tell me that I hate my child for his issues and that is why I am looking to blame someone. I had no idea that people could be so cold and heartless when a parent is crying out for help, by talking about what we saw in our child just hours after his vaccinations. We are not the only parents who have seen this happen. I speak with more and more of them every day. For my full story and many other parent stories pertaining to vaccination damage please visit

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