I mage from Wikimedia Commons, taken
by CDC/Janice Carr
Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by the Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae) bacterium, also known as pneumococcus. Infection can result in pneumonia, infection of the blood (bacteremia/sepsis), middle-ear infection (otitis media), or bacterial meningitis.
The World Health Organization (WHO) says that pneumococcal disease is the world’s number 1 vaccine-preventable cause of death among infants and children younger than 5 years of age.
There are two main types of pneumococcal diseases:
These may be less serious than invasive pneumococcal disease and occur outside the major organs or the blood. S. pneumoniae can spread from the nasopharynx (nose and throat) to the upper and lower respiratory tract and can cause:
These tend to be more serious and occur inside a major organ, or in the blood. Examples of IPDs include:
According to the WHO, up to 1.6 million people die each year globally as a result of pneumococcal diseases - about half of them are children younger than 5 years of age in developing countries. WHO classes pneumococcal disease as a major cause of mortality and morbidity.
(Morbidity = illness, disease. Mortality = death).
Pneumococcal disease causes two deaths every hour among children younger than 5 years of age in the Americas annually, according to PAHO (Pan American Health Organization).
It is also among the top two isolates found in otitis media. Pneumococcal pneumonia tends to affect humans when they are either very young or very old.
According to WHO, vaccination is the only available tool to prevent pneumococcal disease. WHO adds that “the recent development of widespread microbial resistance to essential antibiotics underlines the urgent need for more efficient pneumococcal vaccines.”
Disclaimer: The Pneumococcal Disease informational section on Medical News Today is funded by an educational grant from Wyeth and is regularly reviewed and updated. This guide is provided for general information purposes only. The materials contained within this guide do not constitute medical or pharmaceutical advice, which should be sought from qualified medical and pharmaceutical advisers.
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