Systemic disease caused by Hemophilus influenzae type b is of major clinical and public health importance in this country. Five epidemiologic studies to date have demonstrated the increased risk of secondary disease among household contacts younger than 4 years, and outbreaks of disease have been reported in child day-care facilities.1 Initial hopes for preventing both primary and secondary disease with vaccination were dashed when a promising vaccine failed to provide protection to infants. While efforts have continued in the development of improved vaccines, a search has been initiated for a prophylactic antibiotic that would prevent secondary disease.
The study by Band and colleagues2 in this issue presents the only available data addressing the question of efficacy of antimicrobial prophylaxis for disease caused by H influenzae. These data were presented at a national meeting in November 19813 and were the basis for recommendations published in 1982 by the American
Osterholm MT, Murphy TV. Does Rifampin Prophylaxis Prevent Disease Caused by Hemophilus influenzae Type b?. JAMA. 1984;251(18):2408-2409. doi:10.1001/jama.1984.03340420074031