Defeating Diarrhea

evelopment of better preventive and treatment techniques for alimentary tract diseases has an urgency arising from massive food and beverage production and distribution methods. For example, in 1994, an estimated 224,000 people became ill because a tanker truck used to transport ice cream mix had previously carried liquid eggs. One day's production from a ground beef factory can yield hundreds of thousands of pounds of hamburgers, which are soon sent to many parts of this or other countries. The challenge is to better educate the producers and transporters, to develop guidelines to help them avoid contamination, to develop fast and accurate ways of identifying pathogens in food, and to utilize newly approved methods such as meat irradiation. Other challenges include:

■ Exploiting the power of molecular biology techniques to produce effective vaccines against rotavirus, hepatitis C

virus, and bacterial pathogens. There is special need for bacterial vaccines that can be administered by mouth and evoke long-lasting mucosal immunity.

■ Exploring further the influence of global warming on alimentary tract diseases. A study of Peruvian children by Johns Hopkins University scientists found an 8% increase in clinic visits for diarrhea with each 1°C increase in temperature from the normal.

■ Exploring new prevention and treatment options. Scientists at the University of Florida have developed a genetically engineered Streptococcus mutans that does not produce lactic acid but readily displaces wild strains of the dental decay causing bacterium. Researchers at the University of Alberta have custom-designed a molecule that binds circulating Shiga toxin, potentially preventing hemolytic uremic syndrome. Others work on finding an effective therapy for cryptosporidiosis.

630 Chapter 24 Alimentary System Infections

24.1 Anatomy and Physiology (Figures 24.1,24.2)

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