Short term oral cefixime therapy for treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis

Ellen R. Wald, David Greenberg, Alejandro Hoberman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background. There have been few controlled studies evaluating treatment of bacterial conjunctivitis beyond the newborn period. Topical therapy of bacterial conjunctivitis achieves a clinical cure but does not prevent acute otitis media (AOM). Objectives. The aim of this study was to compare systemic antibiotic therapy (cefixime) with topical therapy with polymyxin-bacitracin for treatment of acute bacterial conjunctivitis with regard to clinical and bacteriologic cure and prevention of AOM. Methods. This study was a randomized, double blind, placebo-controlled trial of polymyxin-bacitracin ointment and oral placebo vs. topical placebo and oral cefixime in children with presumed acute bacterial conjunctivitis. Topical therapy was administered for 7 days; oral therapy was administered for 3 days. Bacterial cultures were obtained at entry and on Day 3 of treatment. Children were examined on Days 3 and 10 or if they worsened within 15 days of entry. Results. Eighty children were enrolled in the study. Bacterial cultures of the conjunctiva were positive in 70% of children: Haemophilus influenzae (53.7%); Streptococcus pneumoniae (13.8%); H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae (1.2%); and Moraxella catarrhalis (1.3%). There were 7 (17.5%) bacteriologic failures among children receiving topical antibiotic and oral placebo and 15 (37.5%) bacteriologic failures among children receiving topical placebo and oral cefixime (P = 0.07 with Yates correction). There was no difference between study groups with regard to either clinical cure or the development of AOM. Nine children (11%), 5 who received active topical therapy and 4 who received active oral drug, developed AOM either during or within 15 days of study entry. Conclusion. Cefixime was not more effective than topical polymyxin-bacitracin in either the eradication of conjunctival colonization with respiratory pathogens or the prevention of AOM in children with acute bacterial conjunctivitis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1039-1042
Number of pages4
JournalPediatric Infectious Disease Journal
Issue number11
StatePublished - 24 Nov 2001
Externally publishedYes


  • Cefixime
  • Children
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Otitis media

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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