Pneumococcal diseases


Last updated Pneumococcal diseases are caused by the bacterium Streptococcus pneumoniae, of which there are more than 90 different kinds, called serotypes. These can cause a wide variety of infections, not just pneumonia, including meningitis, blood poisoning, otitis media and many others. Streptococcus pneumoniae is normally present in our bodies without causing any problems but it can become virulent given the right circumstances. Mild forms of pneumococcal infections do not require medical attention. Severe forms currently respond very well to antibiotics, although an increase in antibiotics resistance is being noticed. The risk is low but there is a risk. In 2012, 6 infants died from infections of this kind and every year the bacterium causes around 60 cases of meningitis in all age groups. The vaccine efficacy is generally between 0% and 40%, depending on the information source, the exact age-group and the exact outcome measure, with the occasional 70%-80% peak results. [1,2,3] Vaccines appear to work fairly well for the right serotypes, those contained in the vaccine, but there is little effect on non-vaccines serotypes. A Canadian study published in 2010 also looked at occurrence of “complicated pneumonia in children” and found a slight increase since the introduction of the vaccine, i.e. the situation got slightly worse. [4] Another study, looking at the overall incidents of invasive pulmonary diseases in the same area, found the vaccine effective for the serotypes it contained. But for other serotypes, incidents increased. [5] Many studies have shown this shift, i.e. the serotypes against which we vaccinate are less often the cause for illness and patients instead get ill from non-vaccine serotypes. [4,5,6,7,8] Due to this, some researchers are hoping to be able to produce future vaccines that protect against all types. [9] The following shows the number of reported cases of Pneumococcal Meningitis….

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