A new study published in The Lancet this month provides the clearest picture yet of the impact and most common causes of diarrheal diseases (DD), the second leading killer of young children globally, after pneumonia. The Global Enteric Multicenter Study (GEMS) was the largest ever on DD in developing countries.
Coordinated by the Center for Vaccine Development of the University of Maryland School of Medicine (the source of this article), GEMS confirmed rotavirus – for which a vaccine already exists – as the leading cause of DD among infants. It identified other top causes – Shigella, Cryptosporidium and ST-ETEC, a type of E. coli – for which additional research is urgently needed. It found that some 20% of children under two suffer from moderate-to-severe diarrhoea each year, which increased their risk of death 8.5-fold and led to stunted growth over a two-month follow-up period.
Part of the study was to test the hypothesis that ceramic filters could eliminate the chlorine-resistant Cryptosporidium.