Prevnar vaccine is having an unfortunate effect: promoting new superbugs that cause ear infections.
On Monday, doctors reported discovering the first such germ that is resistant to all drugs approved to treat childhood ear infections. Nine toddlers in Rochester, N.Y., have had the germ and researchers say it may be turning up elsewhere, too.
Prevnar prevents seven strains responsible for most cases of pneumonia, meningitis and deadly bloodstream infections. But dozens more strep strains exist, and some have flourished and become impervious to antibiotics since the vaccine combats the more common strains.
“It is very worrying,” said Dr. Keith Klugman, an infectious diseases specialist at Emory University. “With the eradication of all the other types in the vaccine, this one is emerging.”
Losing its punch
Prevnar, however, is losing its punch because strains not covered by the vaccine are filling the biological niche that the vaccine strains used to occupy, and they are causing disease.
One strain in particular, called 19A, is big trouble. A new subtype of it caused ear infections in the nine Rochester children, ages 6 months to 18 months, that were resistant to all pediatric medications, said Dr. Michael Pichichero, a microbiologist at the University of Rochester Medical Center.
The children had been unsuccessfully treated with two or more antibiotics, including high-dose amoxicillin and multiple shots of another drug. Many needed surgery to place ear tubes to drain the infection, and some recovered only after treatment with a newer, powerful antibiotic whose safety in children has not been established.
All 19A strep subtypes tend to be resistant to some drugs and have been growing in prevalence:
* Scientists from a drug company and two labs analyzed more than 21,000 bacterial samples from around the nation and found 19A increasing. Among children 2 and under, the portion of samples that were this strain rose to 15 percent in 2005-2006, from 4 percent in the previous three years.
* A British lab tracking respiratory infections in U.S. kids found that the 19A strain accounted for 40 percent of drug-resistant cases.
* University of Iowa researchers found 19A accounted for 35 percent of penicillin-resistant infections in 2004-05, compared with less than 2 percent the year before the new vaccine came out.
This is just extracts of the article. You can see msnbc’s article here: