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Kenyan Immunization May Reduce Sickle-Cell Death

Last Updated: September 10, 2009.

Sickle-cell anemia is more than 25 times more common in Kenyan children with bacterial infections, and immunization may prevent death since the bacterial species are the same as those in developed countries, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in The Lancet.

THURSDAY, Sept. 10 (HealthDay News) -- Sickle-cell anemia is more than 25 times more common in Kenyan children with bacterial infections, and immunization may prevent death since the bacterial species are the same as those in developed countries, according to a study published online Sept. 10 in The Lancet.

Thomas N. Williams, Ph.D., from the Centre for Geographic Medicine Research-Coast in Kilifi, Kenya, and colleagues retrospectively examined the prevalence of sickle-cell anemia in 1,749 Kenyan children hospitalized for bacteremia and in 13,492 Kenyan children from the general population.

The researchers found that 6 percent of children with bacteremia had sickle-cell anemia compared with only 1 percent of children from the general population. Children with bacteremia and sickle-cell anemia were most commonly infected with Streptococcus pneumoniae (41 percent), non-typhi Salmonella species (18 percent), and Haemophilus influenzae type b (12 percent). Children with bacteremia were much more likely to have sickle-cell anemia (age-adjusted odds ratio, 26.3), with the strongest associations for S. pneumoniae, non-typhi Salmonella species, and H. influenzae type b.

"The organisms causing bacteremia in African children with sickle-cell anemia are the same as those in developed countries," Williams and colleagues conclude. "Introduction of conjugate vaccines against S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae into the childhood immunization schedules of African countries could substantially affect survival of children with sickle-cell anemia."

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