Pneumococcal disease is a broad term used to classify illnesses caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). Infection with pneumococcal bacteria can cause respiratory infections (sinusitis, pneumonia), ear infections, blood infections (sepsis) or meningitis (infection of the covering of the brain and spinal cord). These conditions may lead to hospitalization, and thousands die each year from pneumococcal illnesses.
Pneumococcal disease is spread by coughing, sneezing or close contact. People can carry the bacteria in their noses and throats without symptoms and make others sick (asymptomatic spread). Children under the age of 2 years, and many adults are at high risk for pneumococcal disease. Adults at risk for pneumococcal disease include those 65 years of age and older, those who smoke, drink alcohol in excess or who have underlying conditions that make them more vulnerable to infections. Such conditions include: heart, liver or kidney problems, chronic lung problems, diabetes, a weakened immune system, implants in the ear to improve hearing or leakage of fluid surrounding the spinal cord and brain (CSF or cerebrospinal fluid leak).
Symptoms of pneumococcal disease depend on the organ system affected.
Sinus and ear infections:
Pneumonia, blood infections, and meningitis:
Adults at risk for pneumococcal disease should get vaccinated for pneumococcal disease, and get an annual influenza vaccine each year. Influenza is a risk factor for developing pneumococcal disease.
There are two pneumococcal vaccines available in the United States:
Young children should receive 4 doses of PCV13 at ages 2 months, 4 months and 6 months, and 12 months, as part of their routine childhood vaccinations.
Additional tips to protect yourself from pneumococcal disease:
https://www.cdc.gov/pneumococcal/resources/prevent-pneumococcal-factsheet.html (Accessed 18-Mar-2021)
https://www.cdc.gov/vaccines/schedules/hcp/imz/child-adolescent.html (Accessed 18-Mar-2021)
These articles are not a substitute for medical advice, and are not intended to treat or cure any disease. Advances in medicine may cause this information to become outdated, invalid, or subject to debate. Professional opinions and interpretations of scientific literature may vary. Consult your healthcare professional before making changes to your diet, exercise, or medication regime.