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World Health Experts Gather in Mexico to Discuss Deadly Rotavirus

Advances in Vaccines to Prevent 500,000 Child Deaths Annually

Washington, June 29, 2004 (PAHO)—Health experts are preparing for a pivotal meeting in Mexico City July 7, where they will discuss the latest information about rotavirus, a deadly disease that kills half a million children each year, and review the status of vaccines against it.

The most common cause of severe diarrhea, hospitalizations, and deaths among children worldwide, rotavirus is a high priority for developing countries with limited health services, where 85 percent of the 500,000 deaths occur, most from severe dehydration. Vaccines currently under development could be introduced into the routine program of childhood immunizations within 1-3 years and could prevent this most common cause of severe morbidity and mortality in children. The international community has recognized the accelerated development and introduction of rotavirus vaccines as a high priority.

Experts including Dr. Jon Andrus of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Dr. Ruth Bishop, discoverer of rotavirus, Dr. Roger Glass of the U. S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC), Dr. Albert Kapikian, inventor of the rotavirus vaccine, Dr. Roberto Tapia Conyer of the Mexico Ministry of Health, and Dr. Ciro de Quadros of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, who led the successful polio eradication effort in the Americas, will gather in Mexico July 7-9 to discuss all aspects of rotavirus and rotavirus vaccines. Also present will be leading scientists and health ministers from throughout Central and South America; vaccine industry representatives involved in rotavirus vaccine development; and experts from leading public health and donor organizations, including the World Health Organization (WHO), the Global Alliance for Vaccines and Immunization, and the Rotavirus Vaccine Program.

New data on the extent and burden of the virus in developing countries, and insights into its biology and pathology will also be reported at the symposium on rotavirus, being held at the Presidente Intercontinental Hotel, Campos Eliseos 218, Polanco, in Mexico City. Topics of the main sessions include epidemiology and disease burden of rotavirus, its virology, pathogenesis and immunity, past experience and results with new rotavirus vaccines, the health economic and financing of the vaccines and a roundtable on perspectives in vaccine introduction.

The symposium is being convened by PAHO, WHO, the Albert B. Sabin Vaccine Institute, the CDC, and the U.S. National Institutes of Health.

For additional information, contact Raymond MacDougall of the Sabin Vaccine Institute, 202-265-6517, or Daniel Epstein, PAHO Office of Public Information, 202-974-3459. Or visit

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