Pneumococcal pneumonia is a type of bacterial pneumonia that is specifically caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae. "S. pneumoniae" is also called pneumococcus. It is the most common bacterial pneumonia found in adults. The estimated number of Americans with pneumococcal pneumonia is 900,000 annually, with almost 400,000 cases hospitalized and fatalities accounting for 5-7% of these cases.
The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia can occur suddenly, typically presenting as a severe chill, later including a severe fever, cough, shortness of breath, rapid breathing, and chest pains. Other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, headache, fatigue, and muscle aches could also accompany the original symptoms. Sometimes the coughing can produce rusty or blood-streaked sputum. In 25% of cases, a parapneumonic effusion may occur. Chest X-rays will typically show lobar consolidation or patchy infiltrates.
In most cases, once pneumococcal pneumonia has been identified, doctors will prescribe antibiotics. These antibiotic usually help alleviate and eliminate symptoms between 12 and 36 hours after being taken. Despite most antibiotics' effectiveness in treating the disease, sometimes the bacteria can resist the antibiotics, causing symptoms to worsen. Additionally, age and health of the infected patient can contribute to the effectiveness of the antibiotics. A vaccine has also been developed for the prevention of pneumococcal pneumonia, recommended to children under age five as well as adults over the age of 65.
While it has been commonly known that the influenza virus increases one's chances of contracting pneumonia or meningitis caused by the streptococcus pneumonaie bacteria, new medical research in mice indicates that the flu is actually a necessary component for the transmission of the disease. Researcher Dimitri Diavatopoulo from the Radboud University Nijmegen Medical Centre in the Netherlands describes his observations in mice, stating that in these animals, the spread of the bacteria only occurs between animals already infected with the influenza virus, not between those without it. He says that these findings have only been inclusive in mice, however, he believes that the same could be true for humans.