Serum for treatment of bacterial meningitis


Columbia University College Of Physicians and Surgeons


Hattie E. Alexander, MD, assistant attending physician at Babies Hospital (now called NewYork-Presbyterian’s Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital) and professor of pediatrics at Columbia University College of Physicians & Surgeons


Alexander, who worked as a bacteriologist at the U.S. Public Health Service before earning her medical degree, published a paper describing the development of a serum to treat infants and children with influenzal meningitis, a nearly always fatal illness caused by infection with Haemophilus influenza (Hib). The serum reduced the mortality rate for babies and children with this disease to 20 percent. Combining the serum with sulfa drugs and antibiotics further lowered the mortality rate. Although the development of antibiotics eventually made the serum obsolete, Alexander’s knowledge led her to connect Hib with croup, a common disease in babies and children.