The U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has come out with a warning to consumers and health care professionals who have might have administered doses of the vaccine Rota Teq, to infants. There is reportedly a risk of intussusception.
The vaccine is given to infants between 2 to 6 months of age, in three doses as an optional vaccine to prevent infection by rotavirus, which causes dysentery, which is at times, fatal.
The reporting of 28 cases of intussusception or twisting of intestines after administration of the vaccine has put the FDA on high alert.
The case is reminiscent of a situation a few years back when a similar vaccine Rotashield was followed by cases of intussusception. The vaccine was subsequently withdrawn in 1999.
This condition of intestines getting blocked or twisted is potentially fatal, though in the cases reported, there were no unfortunate incidences.
In intussusception, one portion of the intestine telescopes into a nearby portion, causing an intestinal obstruction. The most common site is where the small intestine joins the large intestine.
As intussusception can occur spontaneously without vaccination, it is still not known where the vaccine can be linked to the cases reported.
Officials from the vaccine's manufacturer, Merck Inc., has suggested that the cases could be just background rates- i.e. cases expected to occur naturally.
The FDA has called for public cooperation in the reporting of any such incidences of intussusception. Parents should contact their child's doctor immediately if the child has stomach pain, vomiting, diarrhea, blood in their stool or change in their bowel movements, as these may be signs of intussusception.
In the United States, rotavirus sickens about 2.7 million children younger than 5, sends up to 70,000 to the hospital and causes 20 to 70 deaths each year.