Which clinical history findings are characteristic of pneumococcal infection?

Updated: Jun 08, 2020
  • Author: Eduardo Sanchez, MD; Chief Editor: John L Brusch, MD, FACP  more...
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After successful colonization, S pneumoniae can cause a wide variety of clinical symptoms. By direct extension from the nasopharynx, S pneumoniae infection can spread and then manifest as otitis media, sinusitis, tracheobronchitis, bronchitis, and pneumonia. By invasion and hematogenous spread, S pneumoniae infection can cause primary bacteremia, meningitis, osteomyelitis, pericarditis, endocarditis, myositis, septic arthritis, and peritonitis.

Factors that should prompt consideration of pneumococcal disease in patients with the above conditions are discussed below.

Predisposing factors

Children younger than 5 years, particularly aged 2 years or younger, are at an increased risk of disease. In addition, absence of breastfeeding, exposure to cigarette smoke, daycare attendance, and lack of immunization with the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine further increase the risk of disease. Adults older than 55-65 years are also at an increased risk of disease.

Conditions that cause immune deficits, including HIV infection, malignancy, diabetes mellitus, functional or anatomic asplenia, humoral immunity defects, complement deficiencies, and neutrophil dysfunction, are associated with an increased risk of disease. Conditions associated with decreased pulmonary clearance, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), viral infections, and active/passive cigarette smoke exposure, also predispose to infection.

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