Wednesday, December 1

Invasive pneumococcal disease: symptoms, prevention and how cold can affect us


Invasive pneumococcal disease: symptoms, prevention and how cold can affect us

Invasive pneumococcal disease is a serious infection caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus). If we look at the name of this microorganism, we might think that we are talking about pneumonia, but this pathology entails much more.

And is that pneumococcal infection can produce a wide variety of pathologies. In addition to pneumonia, it can cause sinusitis, otitis media, meningitis, sepsis, arthritis, osteomyelitis, cellulitis, and endocarditis.

Groups most vulnerable to pneumococcus

According to experts, there are two population groups that are most at risk of being attacked by the pneumococcal bacteria. We talk about children and the elderly.

More specifically, among the most vulnerable to the bacteria are children under 5 years of age and, especially, those under 2 years of age.

People over 65 years of age or who suffer from diseases that predispose to infections by this bacterium are also very vulnerable.

Symptoms and Treatment of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease

As we have seen, Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause multiple pathologies, therefore the clinical manifestations of this pathology can vary from fever and chills, cough or breathing difficulties typical of pneumonia, to confusion and increased heart rate that causes sepsis.

Therefore, the way to diagnose it will vary depending on the type of infection that the pneumococcus has produced. Most likely, in the case of meningitis or infections in the blood, analysis of samples of cerebrospinal fluid or blood will be used.

When we talk about otitis media or sinusitis, the specialist probably will not perform this type of test. Once the presence of the bacteria has been determined, a treatment with antibiotics will be prescribed.

The best prevention is the vaccine

Currently there are 3 three types of pneumococcal vaccines: the polysaccharide vaccine against 23 serotypes of the bacterium (VNP23) and two conjugate vaccines against 10 serotypes (VNC10) and 13 serotypes (VNC13).

According to the Spanish vaccination calendar, this vaccine should be administered in young children at 2, 4 and 11 months, and in adults over 65 years of age.

Invasive pneumococcal disease and Covid-19

The form of transmission of pneumococcal disease occurs through the cough or sneeze of an infected person.

Therefore, prevention measures against Covid-19 have had a profound effect on the transmission of this type of bacteria. Confinement and social distance have led to a reduction in invasive pneumococcal disease.

In this context, experts highlight the importance of preventing invasive pneumococcal disease during the current period, when the return to normality is increasingly reducing anticovid measures.

“In a more controlled Covid-19 scenario, in which protective measures begin to relax, traditional pathogens re-emerge. This situation highlights the importance of reinforcing preventive measures against infectious diseases such as pneumococcus or flu, ”explains Dr. José Yuste, scientific head of the Pneumococcal Reference Laboratory of the Carlos III Health Institute.

Along these lines, Dr. Esther Redondo, Section Chief of the Madrid Health and International Vaccination Center of the Madrid City Council, points out that «with the return to normality, it is even more important to achieve high vaccination coverage that guarantees individual protection and group against pneumococcal disease ».

And he adds that “this is an ideal time to do it, because although pneumococcal vaccination is not seasonal, in the coming months a large part of the population at risk will come into contact with the health system, which will be a unique opportunity to review and adapt their vaccination schedule. In addition, we must take advantage of the current commitment and awareness regarding the prevention of infectious diseases.


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