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Vaccines preventing pneumococcal disease protect African children with sickle-cell disease
Date:4/28/2010

WASHINGTON, DC A new study released this week in The Lancet Infectious Diseases finds that African children who contract pneumococcus a bacterial infection that causes pneumonia, meningitis and sepsis are 36 times as likely to have sickle-cell disease, a blood disorder prevalent in African children that increases the risk for infectious diseases and early death. The study underscores the critical need for use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) among populations predisposed to sickle-cell disease, most notably those in sub-saharan Africa.

"Our findings clearly show that African children with sickle-cell disease are at increased risk of bacterial illness compared with their peers without sickle-cell disease, with the pneumococcus being of particular concern," said Dr. Keith P. Klugman, contributing author and professor and William H. Foege Chair in Global Health at the Rollins School of Public Health.

Africa is home to the vast majority of the world's sickle-cell disease cases. Sickle-cell disease is inherited by a child from both parents and is caused by abnormal hemoglobin, a blood protein that distorts the shape of red blood cells and delivers less oxygen to tissues. The disease weakens the immune system and puts its victims at risk for serious bacterial infection and childhood death. Data examined from studies in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Kenya and Senegal countries with the highest sickle-cell disease burden clearly demonstrate an increased risk of serious bacterial infection, especially invasive pneumococcal disease, in African children with sickle-cell disease.

"In combination with early diagnosis and treatment of sickle-cell disease, routine, country-wide immunization against pneumococcus is the best strategy to improve quality of life for all African children, particularly those with sickle-cell disease," said Orin Levine, contributing author, executive director of the International Vacci
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Contact: Mala Persaud
Mala.Persaud@gmmb.com
202-572-2980
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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