Skip to main content

Invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae

Invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae in children less than 5 years is a reportable disease in Oklahoma. Streptococcus pneumoniae causes many illnesses including ear and sinus infections, pneumonia, bloodstream infections (bacteremia), and meningitis (inflammation of the meninges, the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord). The symptoms of S. pneumoniae infections vary according to where the infection occurs. S. pneumoniae may also be present in the throat or on the skin without causing any symptoms or illness at all. When Streptococcus pneumoniae organisms are present in a part of the body that is normally sterile such as the bloodstream or spinal fluid, it is called an “invasive” infection, and is more likely to require hospitalization. Strep is the most common cause of community-associated pneumonia, which can cause severe and life-threatening illness in infants and the elderly.

Streptococcus pneumoniae can be spread by respiratory secretions from infected people, or by contact with drainage from skin infections. You can help prevent Streptococcus pneumoniae infections by careful and frequent hand washing, especially after contact with respiratory secretions or items that may be contaminated with the bacteria. Remember to cover your own cough with a tissue, then throw it away and wash your hands immediately. If your hands are not visibly dirty, and you are not near a sink, use an alcohol-based hand gel. If you follow the instructions on the product, the hand gels are as good as soap and water in these situations.

Two Streptococcus pneumoniae vaccines are available. These vaccines protect people from the most common types of the disease that cause serious illnesses.

  • The pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine (PPV) has been available since 1977 and is used mainly for adults over 65 and those with certain chronic illnesses such as diabetes or pulmonary disease. Only one dose is needed unless it is given prior to age 65. When a second dose is needed, it should be given at least 5 years after the first dose. The PPV is not effective in children less than 2 years old.
  • The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) has been available since 2000 and is recommended for all children between ages 2-23 months and for certain children up to age 5.
PHB seal
Back to Top