Toronto pediatrician wants adult vaccine for C. difficile

Toronto’s top pediatrician has been working on developing an adult vaccine for pertussis, the name given to the C. difficile bug, to prevent infections of children.

But when an adult who has not been immunized in this way appears to contract the infectious disease, she typically finds herself treating a small group of high-risk children who are also ill.

The kids can then be hospitalized and the adult must be nursed back to health, Dr. Maureen Cutler told a Commons committee hearing on Tuesday.

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“So much of our work now is centred around whether adult pertussis vaccines are going to work, and if adults have a greater risk than infants, then of course we have to turn around and reduce the risk for infants as well as adults,” she said.

“I can tell you that it’s my belief that adult vaccination will be approved for most women who are pregnant within the next few weeks.”

Cutler described being called into treatment every other day and not having enough staff on hand to handle a growing number of the infected young patients.

Another patient she encountered was so ill that her doctors stopped giving her antibiotics.

“I pulled her out of the hospital and I immediately, even in the hospital, had to start ventilating her because her temperature had already passed through a million, and it was one of those cases where you think, you know what? The best thing is to let her go home where she knows she will be surrounded by people who love her,” she said.

Cutler said she feared the hospital had been contacted by an outside organization trying to halt drugs she was administering to the young patient, but learned otherwise.

She said she is optimistic that the federal government will issue draft policy guidelines for adult vaccines to be offered to women who are pregnant or women who are breastfeeding within the next few weeks.

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“And then once those guidelines are drafted we’re going to move quickly into scaling up our program to meet demand,” she said.

The Canadian Press

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