More about Pneumococcal Disease and ITS Prevention

Cause

Infection by bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae

Impact

Pneumococcal disease is the leading cause of vaccine preventable under 5 mortality in India. More than 1 lakh Indian kids are estimated to lose their lives every year due to it.

Prevention

Protection of young children is possible through measures like good hygiene, exclusive breastfeeding for first six months and Pneumococcal vaccination.

Age of vaccination

Infants & young children
Consult your doctor for details about Pneumococcal vaccination.

What is Pneumococcal disease?

  • Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae usually enters your body through the nose. It lives in the nose and throat, where it usually remains harmless. It spreads by sneezing, coughing and close contact.
  • Signs and symptoms can be different depending on the type of infection.
  • It can cause*:
    PNEUMONIA
    Infection of the lungs
    SEPTICAEMIA
    Infection in the bloodstream
    MENINGITIS
    Infection of the protective layers covering the brain and spinal cord.
    MIDDLE EAR INFECTION
    Infection of the middle ear also called Acute Otitis Media (AOM)

* Diseases mentioned here can be caused by pathogens other than Streptococcus Pneumoniae

What is Pneumococcal meningitis?

Infection of the protective layers covering the brain and spinal cord.
Symptoms in babies can include:

  • Loss of appetite
  • Low alertness
  • Vomiting

And in young children:

  • Stiff neck
  • Fever
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Confusion
  • Headache

Pneumococcal meningitis needs urgent medical attention. It can cause long-term health issues like hearing loss, learning disorders, seizures, and other other serious consequences.

What is Septicaemia?

Infection in the bloodstream. Symptoms can include:

  • Fever
  • Rapid Breathing
  • Loss of appetite
  • Confusion
  • Low alertness
  • Pale or clammy skin

Severe cases are considered medical emergencies, and may have life threatening consequences.

What is Pneumonia

Infection of the lungs. Symptoms can include:

  • Cough
  • Chills
  • Fever
  • Headaches
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Loss of appetite

In some cases, children may need urgent treatment.

What is a middle ear infection?

Infection of the middle ear, causing pain and distress. AOM is the most common childhood illness (affects 4 in 5 children before 3 years of age), and Streptococcus Pneumoniae is one of the common causes.
Symptoms can include:

  • Ear pain
  • Irritability
  • Fever
  • Hearing loss
  • Discharge from the ear

Ear infections lead to clinic visits for appropriate treatment, because of which parent may have to miss work and can have sleepless nights due to child's suffering.
Repeat middle ear infections can sometimes cause hearing loss and lead to

  • Language delay
  • Behavioral Problems
  • Poor school performance

How can you help protect your child from Pneumococcal Disease?

There are many ways to help protect your child from these potentially serious infections, or to prevent the spreading of infection.

  • Covering mouth when sneezing or coughing
  • Washing hands regularly
  • Breastfeeding
  • Smoke-free environment
  • Vaccination

Pneumococcal vaccination is an effective way of preventing pneumococcal disease.

Following vaccination, local site reactions like pain & redness may be observed as with other routine vaccines.
For more information on benefits & safety of vaccines, please refer to "More about vaccines" tab

Consult your pediatrician, for more information about pneumococcal vaccination.

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