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Jordanian Newborns Carry Potentially Deadly Bacteria

One-third of newborns in Jordan carry Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, which causes pneumococcal disease, preliminary results of a study have revealed.

According to a study, conducted by the Ministry of Health, in cooperation with the German-Jordanian University and Pfizer-Wyeth, the prevalence of Streptococcus pneumoniae among newborns in the Kingdom stands at 33%, well above the international average of 19-25%.

Head of the Engineering Department at the German-Jordanian University Adnan Lahham, who heads the study team, described the figures as “alarming” as the bacteria leads to other serious diseases, including blood poisoning.

Although reasons behind the bacteria’s high prevalence have yet to be discovered, unhealthy behaviours such as kissing newborns, who have weak immune systems, and exposing them to second-hand smoke can increase the bacteria’s spread, Lahham told The Jordan Times.

The study, which started in August last year, covers 5,000 children in Ajloun, who will be tested before and after being vaccinated and compared with a control group that has not been immunised, according to the Health Ministry.

Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of mortality and morbidity worldwide, and is estimated by the World Health Organization to cause up to 1.6 million deaths each year. Approximately half of these deaths occur in infants and children under five in the developing world.

According to the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases (NFID) in the US, when this bacteria invades the lungs, it causes the most common form of community-acquired bacterial pneumonia; when the bacteria invades the bloodstream, it causes bacteraemia; and when it invades the covering of the brain, it causes meningitis.

Pneumococci may also cause otitis media (middle ear infection) and sinusitis. Currently there are more than 90 known pneumococcal types, with the 10 most common types accounting for approximately 62 per cent of invasive diseases worldwide, according to the NFID.

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