How Rotavirus Causes Diarrhea

Rotaviruses are the major cause of diarrhea in infants. They are associated with the death of about 600,000 infants each year worldwide. Adults rarely have major problems with this cause of diarrhea. Last year there was a lot of hope that a vaccine would protect our young ones. Unfortunately, the vaccine caused some serious complications and it was removed from the market. Many researchers worked long and hard on this vaccine. However, all the while they worked, another group of researchers from Goteborg University in Sweden were trying to determine how this virus causes diarrhea. Sometimes the easiest questions to ask are the hardest to answer and for years no one knew exactly how this virus caused diarrhea.

People knew that when infants are infected their small intestines start pumping fluid into the feces causing the very runny diarrhea. They knew what cells were infected and killed by the virus. But they did not know how the virus caused the diarrhea.

Now through the work of Ove Lundgren it has been determined that when Rotaviruses infect the intestinal cells they cause the body to mount an inflammatory response. When the intestine is inflamed it causes certain nerve cells to start sending messages to the intestinal cells to pump fluids into the feces in the intestine. When these researchers gave mice, that had been infected with Rotavirus, a drug called Lidocaine they were able to stop the diarrhea. This drug worked well because it calms down the nerves and prevents the cells from getting the message to pump out fluid.

If the factor that causes the nerves to start sending messages could be identified a drug could be produced that would block its action. New hope to treat this very deadly infantile diarrhea may now be available. Dr. Lundgren’s research article appeared in the Science magazine.

Take Care and Think Microbiologically!

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