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Patch guards against Montezuma's revenge

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12:18pm, November 26, 2007

From Philadelphia, at a meeting of the American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene

A skin patch can prime the immune system to fend off traveler's diarrhea, a test shows.

Bacteria that contaminate food and water in developing countries cause roughly 17 million cases of diarrhea each year, many in visitors to those countries. To test a vaccine against a strain of Escherichia coli responsible for a large fraction of these bouts, researchers enlisted U.S. volunteers who were planning travel to Mexico or Guatemala. Shortly before each traveler's departure, the scientists mildly abraded a small area of each person's skin and then applied a patch. One-third got the vaccine; the others received an inert patch.

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