Cincinnati Children's Testing Bird Flu Vaccine

Thursday, November 10, 2005

CINCINNATI -- Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center is one of only four centers in the United States that is testing a bird flu vaccine in older adults and, potentially in children.

The vaccine was manufactured by sanofi pasteur for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. sanofi pasteur has begun large-scale production of its H5N1 vaccine under a U.S. Government contract. In previous studies the vaccine appeared to be safe and induced protective responses in healthy adults.

Cincinnati Children's is now testing the safety of the inactivated H5N1 vaccine, the immune protection that the vaccine provides, and the vaccine's side effects in the elderly population. Cincinnati Children's will test the vaccine in children in the future.

The study is under the direction of David Bernstein, MD, director of the Division of Infectious Diseases at Cincinnati Children's, and conducted through the Cincinnati Children's Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (VTEU). The Cincinnati Children's VTEU is supported by the National Institutes of Health one of just a handful of such units in the United States established by NIAID for vaccine studies. H5N1 is a strain of avian influenza virus that first infected humans in 1997. Since late 2003, this strain has infected humans in Asia and has recently been detected in poultry in several European countries. The greatest fear is that the virus will either mutate or mix with human flu strains, enabling easy transmission among people. Health officials throughout the world are concerned that the emergence of strains of this virus in humans could lead to an influenza pandemic. Three influenza pandemics have occurred during the last century. It is estimated that in 1918 as many as 40 million died throughout the world. High numbers of deaths and illness also occurred during the 1957 and 1968 pandemics. Vaccines would provide the most effective strategy for protection if there is an outbreak of H5N1 in the United States, according to Dr. Bernstein

Cincinnati Children's is a 423-bed institution devoted to bringing the world the joy of healthier kids. Cincinnati Children's is dedicated to transforming the way health care is delivered by providing care that is timely, efficient, effective, family-centered, equitable and safe. It ranks third nationally among all pediatric centers in research grants from the National Institutes of Health. The Cincinnati Children's vision is to be the leader in improving child health.

Contact Information

Jim Feuer, 513-636-4656, jim.feuer@cchmc.org