The world’s first hand, foot and mouth vaccine has protected children against the disease in China, according to a new study.
Scientists have reported in the Lancet that in a Phase III trial involving 10,000 children, the vaccine was 90% effective against enterovirus 71 (EV71), one of the viruses which causes the disease.
Groups of researchers in Jiangsu and Beijing tested the vaccine in healthy children aged six to 35 months over 28 days.
Writing in the Lancet, the scientists said; “EV71 vaccine provides high efficacy, satisfactory safety and sustained immunogenicity.”
The vaccine was not shown to be effective against other viruses that cause hand, foot and mouth disease.
The disease causes mouth ulcers and blisters on the hands and feet. But in some cases, the brain can become infected.
In 2009, 1.2 million people in China became infected with the disease and 353 patients died.
According to the World Health Organisation, EV71 has been associated with neurological disease and mortality in large outbreaks in the Asia Pacific region over the last decade.
Autopsies conducted in mainland China, Malaysia, Singapore and Taiwan have been useful in improving understanding of the pathogenesis of severe disease and the underlying pathological insult leading to death, the WHO said in a report published in 2011.
In 2012, HFMD infected 35,000 people and killed 17 in China’s Hunan province.
Image: Hand, foot and mouth disease ususally affects infants and children. Photo: Courtesy of MidgleyDJ.