What is pneumococcal disease?
Pneumococcus can cause many different types of illnesses that can be mild in nature, or severe and even life-threatening. It is the most common cause of middle ear infections, infections of the lining of the brain and spinal cord (meningitis), lung infections (pneumonia) and infections of the blood, in young children.
Invasive (severe) pneumococcal disease is a reportable disease in Ontario.
What are the symptoms of pneumococcal disease?
Because pneumococcal disease causes so many different types of infections, the symptoms aren’t always the same. The symptoms of the individual infections can be found here:
You should see a health care provider if the illness seems to be causing more serious symptoms.
How is pneumococcal disease spread?
Pneumococcal disease spreads from person to person through close contact with saliva and secretions (fluids) from the throat and nose. These secretions can be spread to another person by kissing, coughing, sneezing and sharing personal items like water bottles, utensils and toothbrushes. Items like children’s toys that are put in the mouth or have contact with saliva can also spread the bacteria.
How is pneumococcal disease treated?
Treatment of serious pneumococcal disease is done in hospital, where you can be given supportive care, antibiotics and fluids. Some strains of the bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics and, as a result, harder to treat.
You can treat mild symptoms at home.
How is pneumococcal disease prevented?
As part of their routine schedule, children get a pneumococcal vaccine that protects them against pneumococcal disease starting at two months of age. Vaccination is also available for children and adults with certain health conditions and for all adults over 65 years of age.
Simple preventative measures can reduce the spread of infection.