The first vaccine against Haemophilus influenzae will soon become commercially available. After at least 12 years of clinical studies, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is prepared to license a vaccine against this major cause of bacterial meningitis in children.
When the vaccine is available it should enable physicians largely to avoid the problem of prescribing adequate antibiotic treatment. In recent years, a large percentage of H influenzae organisms have become resistant to ampicillin, the antibiotic of choice for treating these infections. In such cases, the physician has had to fall back on chloramphenicol, with its potential for bone marrow toxicity.
Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib) causes an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 cases of meningitis annually in children. In addition, a similar number of cases of sepsis, epiglottidis, pneumonia, septic arthritis, and osteomyelitis are caused by this organism, points out William S. Jordan, MD, director of the microbiology and infectious