Organism, Causative Agent, or Etiologic Agent
Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) invasive disease is caused by a type of bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can be found in many people’s noses and throats and is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or coming into contact with respiratory secretions.
Streptococcus pneumoniae can cause both invasive diseases (such as a meningitis or a blood stream infection) and non-invasive diseases (such as pneumonia). Only invasive disease is reportable to the Texas Department of State Health Services. Symptoms of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) invasive disease can be different depending on the type of infection the disease has caused. The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. Symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis include stiff neck, fever, mental confusion and disorientation, and visual sensitivity to light. The symptoms of pneumococcal bacteremia (infection in the bloodstream) may be similar to symptoms of pneumonia and meningitis and may also include joint pain and chills.
Complications of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) invasive disease can include brain damage, hearing loss, limb loss, and death.
The following groups of people are at high risk for invasive disease caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae:
- Children younger than 2 years old
- Children in group child care settings
- People who are 65 years old and older
- People with weak immune systems due to cancer, leukemia, Hodgkin’s disease, or human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)
- People with long-term or chronic illnesses such as lung, heart, or kidney disease; diabetes; or sickle cell disease
- People without a functioning spleen
- People with alcoholism
- Residents of long term care facilities
The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine and polysaccharide vaccine can help prevent infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Maintaining healthy habits like getting plenty of rest and not coming into close contact with people who are sick can also help prevent infection. Using good health practices such as covering your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing and washing your hands frequently with soap and water can also help stop the spread of the bacteria.
School Exclusion Policy
Children with a fever should be kept out of school or childcare until they are fever free for 24 hours without the use of fever suppressing medications. Rules for exclusion of sick children from school and childcare are outlined in the Texas Administrative Code, specifically Rule 97.7 for schools and Rule 746.3603 for childcare.
Recent Texas Trends
In Texas, only invasive cases of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) disease are reportable. The number of Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcal) invasive disease cases reported to DSHS ranged from 271 (1.2 cases per 100,000 population) in the year 2003--the first year pneumococcal invasive disease was reportable in Texas--to 1,715 (6.4 cases per 100,000 population) in 2013. Out of the 1,715 cases reported in Texas in 2013, 760 (18.6 cases per 100,000 population) occurred in adults aged 60 years or more.