Pneumococcal vaccine halts illness caused by C. difficile, study finds

Written by Caya Reed, CNN Phew.

Chronic colds may not be gone after all — at least not according to a study published Monday that finds the Pfizer’s pneumococcal vaccine prevents a specific type of the illness.

“The study provides new evidence supporting benefits of the current vaccine schedule for the prevention of C. difficile infection caused by the C. difficile serotype Enterobacteriaceae,” the researchers, led by Dr. J. Mathew Rupsing of The Pasteur Institute in France, wrote in their study.

To conduct the study, the researchers looked at more than 7,600 patients who presented to a hospital emergency department with Enterobacteriaceae infection, specifically of the Enterobacteriaceae C. difficile Serotype group. The group is known to cause a type of fecal coliform illness commonly known as C. difficile (CDI)

“The results from the study were positive and demonstrated that there were no generalities regarding the safety and efficacy of the vaccine or its adjuvant of rifampin,” according to a joint statement by Pfizer and the Pasteur Institute.

Where C. difficile can be diagnosed

Bacterial infections of the bowel that begin with C. difficile lead to severe and sometimes deadly diarrhea.

To date, only one type of pneumococcal vaccine has been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration: Prevnar 13.

Prevnar 13 combines four forms of the bacteria, called pneumococcal conjugate vaccines, which are designed to prevent pneumococcal disease by targeting specific strains of the bacteria.

According to the researchers, 43% of the infected patients were patients who received Pfizer’s Prevnar 13, while the vaccine was not offered to those patients.

Approximately 1.5 million people in the US and almost 100,000 people in the UK are infected with C. difficile each year, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 400,000 people in the US experience CDI, or C. difficile infection, each year.

Patients with CDI develop a range of symptoms, including fever, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea and vomiting. In some patients, the symptoms progress into a blood infection called a staphylococcal pneumonia.

Acute and secondary CDI have been strongly associated with exacerbations of febrile illness (including anemia, organ failure and shock), which might require hospitalization and potential death, according to the CDC. In addition, CDI has also been associated with longer-term health problems, including increased risk of recurrent CDI or antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

Rupsing said the results of his study might provide better options for patients with recurrent C. difficile infection.

“The results of this study are in line with what we have long recommended: a combination of Prevnar 13 and antibiotics to prevent the secondary recurrence of CDI in these patients. We should make this treatment more affordable as well, as pneumococcal vaccines, which prevent pre-existing CDI, should be made available to all,” he said in the statement.

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