Week by Week

Paediatric Pneumococcal Infections

By Medically reviewed by Dr. Duyen Le

Pneumococcal infection kills about 500,000 children every year. However, according to a survey, 96% of Malaysian moms do not know a single thing about pneumococcus, whereas 97% do not know that this can be vaccinated.

What is pneumococcus?

Streptococcus pneumonia, or pneumococcus, is a significant human pathogenic bacterium that is known as the major cause of pneumonia in the late 19th century.

Who is the most likely to be infected

From birth to 24 months, an infant’s body still has a very low level of pneumococcal antibodies circulation. Therefore, they are the most likely to be at risk of this disease. Children with weakened immunity (either innately or by outer factors) and those who contract chronic diseases are also possible victims of pneumococcal infections.

Signs and symptoms

Meningitis
These include fever, severe headache, nausea, vomiting, diarrhea, stiff neck, avoidance of light, irritability, lethargy, and the bulging of fontanelle. Unconsciousness and seizures may also happen.

Bacteraemia
Children with bacteremia have high fevers and are always irritated. Infections of the respiratory system can also occur.

Pneumonia
Pneumonia makes children have trouble breathing. Chest pain, chills, fever, and coughing are also the typical symptoms.

Otitis media
Suffering from otitis media equals a hearing loss for a temporary period, earache, and fever.

Acute sinusitis
There are signs such as a 10 to 14-day cold and nasal drainage leading to bad sore throats, bad breath, nausea or fatigue.

Keep in mind that the onset of pneumococcal infections can sometimes be too subtle to be recognized.

Prevention

Preventing in advance
Keep your home environment hygienic and be sure that the child care center that you send your kid to obeys hygienic rules, too. Also, avoid air pollution such as car exhaust or smokes. Besides, to improve the body’s nutritional intake, breastfeed your child at least until they are 6 months old. Should your child show any signs of sickness, do not force them to go to daycare.

Vaccination
Nowadays, there are two types of vaccine available:

  • Pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine: this vaccination cannot be used for children under 2 years due to inadequate immune response stimulation.
  • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine: This is a newer vaccine that can be used on 6-month old kids and induces immune memory and herd immunity. Invasive pneumococcal diseases can also be prevented by this kind of vaccine.

The importance of vaccination: Vaccine acts as a prevention from a repeated infection in children. It also stops the bacteria from transmitting in the community. Using vaccine, moreover, can lower the need to use antibiotics, lowering the rates of resistant bacteria. Those who already get infected can also have a limited immunity to the disease so as not to be infected again. Therefore, visit your doctors to have your child vaccinated as soon as possible.


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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.

Sources
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