News Alert: Common Childhood Vaccination Promotes New Superbugs
October 06, 2007
The use of the vaccine Prevnar, which has successfully curbed pneumonia, meningitis, and deadly bloodstream infections in young children for the past seven years, has now unleashed a superbug that is resistant to all currently available drugs.
Prevnar covers seven of the 90-odd strains of the strep bacteria, and although diseases from the seven covered strains have declined dramatically, one strain called 19A has developed super resistance and is spreading.
Used in a dozen countries, Prevnar had sales of more than $1.5 billion dollars last year alone. In the U.S. Prevnar is given to infants as four shots between the age of 2 months and 15 months.
Nine toddlers in Rochester, NY have had the bug and researchers expect it to turn up elsewhere as well, spreading through day care centers and schools.
The nine children were all unsuccessfully treated with two or more antibiotics, including high-dose amoxicillin and multiple shots of another drug. Several of the children had to have ear tubes surgically inserted, and some recovered only after undergoing treatment with newer, more powerful antibiotics approved for adults only.
According to Dr. Cynthia Whitney, chief of respiratory diseases at the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Avoiding antibiotics when they are not needed is the best way to ensure they will work when they are.”
Yahoo News September 17, 2007
MSNBC September 17, 2007
New England Journal of Medicine April 6, 2006; 354:1522-1524