Hunein F. Maassab, the University of Michigan researcher who developed the nasal spray influenza vaccine now under study by the vaccine manufacturer, said that recent reports of the vaccine's protection against otitis media carry even more good news for children.
Otitis media, an ear infection common in children, can be an extremely painful illness for children. It is also associated with fever, irritability, sleep disturbances, anorexia and vomiting. Clinical trials funded by the vaccine manufacturer, Aviron, recently determined that Maassab's nasal spray vaccine provided a 30 percent protection against otitis media. In July 1997, Massaab announced to the world that the vaccine had proven to be 93 percent effective in a major study of 1,600 children across the country.
"This is really remarkable," Maassab said. "The prevention of febrile otitis media associated with influenza was a clear benefit of vaccination with 30 percent fewer cases of febrile otitis media among vaccine recipients than among placebo recipients. The widespread use of this influenza vaccine significantly reduces the frequency not only of febrile otitis media, but also in the anitbiotic use during influenza outbreaks."
The nasal spray vaccine is a fine mist that will be marketed by Aviron as FluMist. It may be available to the public by the summer of 1999. The vaccine has proven to be genetically stable and acceptable because it's administered through a natural root via nasal passages. Maassab said that the vaccine is also adaptable to other influenza viruses.
"We have the methodology to constantly update the vaccine whenever new outbreaks have been identified,'' Maassab said.
Maassab is a professor of epidemiology at the U-M School of Public Health, one of the foremost public health research institutions in the country.
Maassab, who was a research assistant of Dr. Thomas Francis Jr., founder of the
Epidemiology Department, received his Ph.D. from the School
Contact: Amy Reyes
University of Michigan