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What is pneumococcal disease?

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Quick Answer

Pneumococcal disease is an infection caused by a strain of bacteria known as Streptococcus pneumoniae, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This bacteria is known to cause a wide range of dangerous conditions, such as meningitis and pneumonia.

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Full Answer

There are many different kinds of pneumococcal diseases, according to the CDC. Which disease an individual gets depends on where the infection takes place in the body. For example, most pneumococcal infections take place in the lungs. As a result, more people develop a condition called pneumococcal pneumonia. Symptoms of this infection include rapid or difficulty breathing, coughing, fever, chills and low alertness in elderly individuals.

An infection of pneumococcal bacteria can also cause a dangerous condition called pneumococcal meningitis, according to the CDC. In this disease, the bacteria infect the tissue covering the brain and spinal cord. Symptoms of this type of infection include a stiff neck, headache, fever, confusion and pain when looking into bright lights. Babies with this infection also do not eat or drink well and are prone to vomiting.

Pneumococcal bacteria can sometimes cause infections of a person's blood and middle ear as well, states the CDC. This can result in a number of complications, including sepsis, ear infections and sinus infections. Generally, the best treatment for these infections is antibiotics, according to MedlinePlus.

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