This is huge news for travelers, although it’s not a done deal yet. As of now, there is no vaccine for traveler’s diarrhea, an illness that afflicts millions of travelers every year. It is the most common illness abroad affecting 20-50% of travelers. It strikes suddenly and can ruin many business and leisure vacations. Those who have experience it, will never forget it.
Travel doctors have many effective strategies to minimize the risk of traveler’s diarrhea, and to treat it if it occurs. Currently, the best protection is to exercise consistent caution with food and beverages.
Now, GlaxoSmithKline has set their sights to develop a vaccine to prevent traveler’s diarrhea. They are investing serious money into the project as the market for the vaccine is enormous. This breakthrough would finally give traveler’s a potent weapon against a disease that has frustrated travelers and physicians. Initial reports are encouraging and larger groups of patients traveling from Europe to Mexico and Guatemala are planned.
Don’t like needles? No problem. The traveler’s diarrhea vaccine will be administered by applying a patch directly onto your skin. If successful, this could lead other vaccine makers to develop new methods to administer vaccines without syringes.
Travel vaccinations are an important strategy to prevent disease abroad. Currently, there are safe and effective travel vaccines against yellow fever, hepatitis, typhoid, rabies and many other diseases. Hopefully, a vaccine against traveler’s diarrhea will be on this list soon. Travelers should consult with a travel doctor weeks before departure for advice on preventing and treating traveler’s diarrhea and for other travel safety advice.
If the travel vaccine against traveler’s diarrhea really works, does it mean that it is now safe to ‘drink the water’? Probably not, but the odds for staying well would be much more in your favor. Stay tuned.