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Dramatic Decline Seen in Pneumococcal Meningitis

Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine credited for decreased disease incidence in children and adults

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 14 (HealthDay News) -- Since the pediatric heptavalent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV7) was introduced in 2000, rates of pneumococcal meningitis among children and adults have substantially declined in the United States. But there has been a worrisome recent increase in meningitis caused by non-PCV7 serotypes, according to an article published in the Jan. 15 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.

Heather E. Hsu, of the University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues analyzed 1998-2005 population-based surveillance data from eight sites nationwide, which in 2005 represented an estimated 18.5 million persons.

Between 1998-1999 and 2004-2005, the researchers found that the incidence of pneumococcal meningitis declined by 64 percent among children under age 2 and by 54 percent among adults aged 65 and older, and that the rates of PCV7-serotype meningitis declined by 73.3 percent among patients of all ages. But they found that the rates of meningitis caused by non-PCV7-serotypes, including antibiotic-resistant strains, increased by 60.5 percent, primarily affecting children under age 2.

"Increases in the rates of disease from non-PCV7 serotypes indicate the need for continued development of more broadly protective vaccines," the authors conclude. "Given that pneumococcal meningitis remains highly lethal, with approximately one in 12 cases in children and one in five cases in adults resulting in death in our study, additional prevention measures are needed."

Several researchers disclosed receiving financial support from pharmaceutical companies.

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