UK rise in pneumococcal strain after jab

GPs should be alert to potential cases of pneumonia in children even if they have received the pneumococcal jab.

The call comes after UK researchers identified a rise in serotype one pneumococcal bacteria, which is not covered by the current vaccine.

Since September 2006, the vaccine, which protects against seven common pneumococcal strains, has been part of the childhood immunisation programme in England and Wales. 

Lead researcher Dr David Spencer, a consultant respiratory paediatrician in Newcastle, presented his research at the annual meeting of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health held in York earlier this week.

‘Years ago, serotype one was not common in the UK,' he said. ‘But now we are seeing an increase in the number of cases of the strain. 

‘Last year we saw 70 cases of serotype one at our Newcastle centre alone. It is estimated that there were around 800 to a 1,000 cases in the UK last year.'

Introduction of the pneumococcal vaccine has probably led to the increase in serotype one, a pattern that has already been seen in the US, said Dr Spencer.

sanjay.tanday@haymarket.com

Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health annual conference 2008

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