Pneumococcal disease is an infectious disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria also called as Pneumococcus. Infants and young children are likely to be the main reservoir of this bacteria. Pneumococcal infection can result in milder common illnesses like sinusitis and otitis media (inner ear infections) or serious diseases like meningitis (infection of the covering around the brain and spinal cord), bacteraemia (blood stream infection), and pneumonia (lungs infection). Blood stream infections and meningitis are invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPD) which occur when bacteria invades those parts of the body which are otherwise sterile or germ free zones. Invasive diseases are very serious leading to hospitalization and death in majority of infants. Newborns can be protected from this deadly pathogen partly by exclusive breastfeeding till first 6 months of life and reduction of possible risk factors like indoor pollutants and tobacco smoke. Vaccination is the only possible way to largely prevent the pneumococcal infections.
How is Pneumococcal infection contagious?
Pneumococcus usually stays in the human nose and throat region and is transmitted through respiratory droplets from the infected person when he/she sneezes or coughs. People even without any symptoms can spread the infection.