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Pneumococcal Infections

Pneumococcus (Streptococcus pneumoniae) is a type of bacteria that can cause infections, some serious, in many parts of the body. Pneumococcus is responsible for many cases of

  • Brain and spinal cord infection (meningitis)
  • Lung infection (pneumonia)
  • Infection of the bloodstream (bacteremia)
  • Joint infection (arthritis)
  • Ear infection (otitis media)
  • Infection of the sinus membranes (sinusitis)
  • Eye infection (conjunctivitis)

These infections are often spread through sneezing, coughing, or touching an unwashed hand.

Signs and Symptoms

The signs and symptoms of pneumococcal infections depend on the site of the infection. Typical signs and symptoms for meningitis are fever, headache, lethargy, vomiting, seizures, and stiff neck; for pneumonia, fever, cough, and difficulty breathing; for bacteremia, fever and less energy; for ear infections, fever and ear pain; and for sinustitis, fever and pain in the face.

Your pediatrician will prescribe antibacterials for treating pneumococcal infections.

Pneumococcal infections can be serious and may pose greater health risks in very young children whose immune systems are still developing. Some of these diseases are life threatening in normal children as well as children who have other illnesses or health conditions such as HIV infection, certain cancers (eg, leukemia, lymphoma), sickle cell disease, diabetes, and chronic heart, lung, or kidney disease.

Last Updated
Immunizations &Infectious Diseases: An Informed Parent's Guide (Copyright © 2006 American Academy of Pediatrics)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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