A vaccine for urinary tract infections

By • Published: December 23rd, 2009
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Anyone who’s downed glass after glass of cranberry juice to stop the pain of a urinary tract infection will like this news: University of Michigan researchers have developed a vaccine to help prevent the dreaded U-T-I.

And so far, the vaccine seems to be working in its first set of test subjects… mice.

The new vaccine targets the bacterium E. Coli, the culprit behind most urinary tract infections.

Wondering what exactly a urinary tract infection is? Basically, it’s any infection of the parts that make up the urinary tract, though the most common locales are the bladder and urethra.

Because of the way their bodies are shaped, women are much more likely than men to get them. A woman’s urethra is shorter than a man’s, meaning less travel time for pesky bacteria. About half of women will have a U-T-I. Men get these infections, too, but only about fourteen percent of them will have one.

Of course gender isn’t the only risk factor for getting a U-T-I. Using certain types of birth control can increase a woman’s risk, as can sexual activity and aging. Diabetes, kidney stones and catheter use can also lead to a U-T-I.

If left unchecked, U-T-Is can cause an even bigger problem… kidney infections. An infection in the kidneys could cause permanent problems.

Although the vaccine is testing well in mice so far, it could be years before it is available for humans.

Worried about a U-T-I now? Call your doctor. Antibiotics can help you evict those bacteria and get back to feeling normal.