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Routine Hib Vaccination Could Save Innumerable Asian Children

A new study has shown that regular vaccination of infants against H. influenzae type b (Hib), a bacterium that causes deadly Hib pneumonia and meningitis, could save innumerable children in Asia.

The study from Bangladesh, which is published online in The Pediatric Infectious Disease Journal, has established that routine immunization of infants with a Hib conjugate vaccine prevented more than one-third of acute pneumonia cases and approximately 90 percent of Hib meningitis cases. The researchers said that similar impact would be expected in other parts of the region.

This vaccine study puts together the evidence of the actual burden of Hib pneumonia and meningitis as has been shown in other studies in Chile and Indonesia, that is that the percentage of pneumonia and meningitis prevented by the Hib conjugate vaccine is considerably higher than what can be detected through routine observation.

"There has been an ongoing disagreement about the total burden of Hib pneumonia and meningitis in Asia, but our findings provide evidence challenging the commonly held notion that these diseases are rare in Asia," said Dr Abdullah Baqui, Associate Professor, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, USA.

"Our research shows that routine Hib vaccination is a feasible and highly effective way of preventing death related to Hib pneumonia and meningitis and could save the lives of a significant number of Asian children who die under the age of five," he added.

The study was conducted by researchers from International Centre for Diarrhoeal Disease Research, Bangladesh (ICDDR, B), Dhaka Shishu Hospital and John Hopkins University. The vaccine used in the study replaced the routine diphtheria, tetanus and pertussis (DTP) vaccine with a DTP-Hib combination. The combination vaccine did not call for supplementary injections or visits to benefit from the expanded protection. Bangladesh recently app
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