Pneumococcal Pneumonia

What is Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

Pneumococcal pneumonia is an infection of the lungs caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria, or pneumococcus. It infects the upper respiratory tract of adults and children. It can also cause ear and sinus infections, meningitis, and bloodstream infections.

Who gets Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

Infants, young children, and adults 65 years of age or older are more likely to get this disease. Children at risk include those:

  • Younger than 2 years old
  • In group child care
  • Who have certain illnesses (sickle cell disease, HIV infection, or chronic heart or lung conditions)
  • With cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks

Adults at risk include those:

  • With chronic illnesses
  • With weakened immune systems
  • Living in nursing homes or other long-term care facilities
  • With cochlear implants or cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) leaks
  • Who smoke cigarettes

How is Pneumococcal Pneumonia Spread?

It is spread from person to person by coughing, sneezing, or close contact.

What are the Symptoms of Pneumococcal Pneumonia?

The disease may begin quickly, with:

  • Fever and chills
  • Cough
  • Chest Pain
  • Rapid breathing or difficulty breathing

Older adults with pneumococcal pneumonia may experience confusion or low alertness, rather than the more common symptoms listed above. If you have any of these symptoms, see your doctor right away for early diagnosis and to begin treatment quickly.

How is Pneumococcal Pneumonia Diagnosed?

A doctor or other health care provider can diagnose pneumonia based on symptoms, lab tests, a physical exam, or a chest x-ray.

How is Pneumococcal Pneumonia Treated?

Antibiotics are used to treat this disease.

Can Pneumococcal Pneumonia be Prevented?

The best way to prevent pneumococcal disease is by getting vaccinated. However, it is not guaranteed to prevent all symptoms in all people. Vaccination is recommended for all children through age 6 and adults aged 65 years and older. Vaccination may also be recommended for other age groups with certain medical conditions. Ask your doctor if you and/or anyone in your family between 6 and 65 years old need a vaccine.

Being infected with the influenza virus also increases the likelihood of being infected with pneumococcal disease, so getting the influenza vaccine may help prevent pneumococcal pneumonia.

The next best way to prevent infection is to use good health habits. Remember to cover your cough and wash your hands often.

Hand Washing Instructions:

  • Use soap and running water
  • Rub your hands vigorously for 20 seconds
  • Wash all surfaces, including:
    • backs of hands
    • wrists
    • between fingers
    • under fingernails
  • Rinse well
  • Dry hands with a paper towel
  • Turn off the water using a paper towel instead of bare hands
For additional information about cleanliness and to avoid spreading illness, visit the Oakland County Health Division - Hand Washing web page.