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June 27, 1986

Ophthalmia Neonatorum: Diagnosis and Treatment—Why Not Prevention?

Author Affiliations

Centers for Disease Control Atlanta

JAMA. 1986;255(24):3404. doi:10.1001/jama.1986.03370240074040

We are reminded by the thorough study of Rapoza and colleagues1 that chlamydial conjunctivitis is an important cause of ophthalmia neonatorum. In fact, it was not clear that any other of the broad range of bacterial and viral agents sought were causes of conjunctivitis. Only in the instance of ten cases from which Haemophilus influenzae was isolated was there any clear-cut evidence of an etiologic role.

A striking finding was the low sensitivity of the Giemsa stain in comparison with previous studies of neonatal chlamydial conjunctivitis. In previous studies,2 tissue cultures, Giemsa stains, and polyclonal fluorescent antibody smears appeared to be equally effective in diagnosis. Unfortunately, the methodologies are not comparable. In the current study, the Giemsa smear was made from the second swab after it had been used to prepare a direct immunofluorescent monoclonal antibody smear. In previous studies, the comparison was with a smear prepared from