Researchers found a new skin patch that may protect travelers from a traveler's diarrhea, that common vacation spoiler.

The study showed that the experimental vaccine patch reduced the likelihood of contracting traveler's diarrhea as well as shortened and made less severe the episodes of diarrhea of those who did develop it.

Statistics show that 27 million adult travelers and 210 million children develop diarrhea each year, most usually from eating contaminated foods or drinking contaminated beverages. The diarrhea lasts from four to five days and include symptoms such as loose stools, nausea, vomiting, abdominal pain, and dehydration.

The leading cause of traveler's diarrhea is enterotoxigenic E. coli bacteria. When they colonize the small intestine, they secrete toxins called heat-labile enterotoxin (LT) and cause diarrhea.

Previous studies have already showed that anti-LT vaccines might provide short-term protection from the annoying traveler's diarrhea, however, the compound is way too toxic to be delivered by traditional vaccination methods, such as by mouth, injections, or nasal sprays.

The researchers tested the effectiveness of the vaccine patch in a group of 170 healthy adults travelling to Mexico and Guatemala. They randomly assigned 59 participants to receive the vaccine patch and 111 to receive a placebo patch. The travelers had to keep track of any diarrhea-related symptoms during the trip and provide samples of any loose stools for analysis.

Twenty-two of the study participants who received the placebo developed some of the diarrhea-related symptoms in comparison to 15% of those who got the vaccine patch.The percentage of severe diarrhea from any cause was also lower among those who received the vaccine patch. Additionally, those who received the vaccine patches had shorter episodes of diarrhea and fewer loose stools.

The researchers suggest that the patch may help protect against traveler's diarrhea and are preparing additional clinical trials.