What is the pathophysiology of pediatric pneumococcal infections?

Updated: Jan 14, 2019
  • Author: Meera Varman, MD; Chief Editor: Russell W Steele, MD  more...
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Pneumococci are encapsulated, lancet-shaped, gram-positive diplococci. The bacteria are transmitted person to person via respiratory droplet contact. Pneumococci can cause disease either by direct spread from colonized mucosal surfaces (eg, otitis media) or by hematogenous spread (eg, meningitis following bacteremia). Mucosal irritation resulting from factors such as viral infection or smoke often is a predisposing factor for pneumococcal infection. Ninety serotypes have been identified, with varying degrees of pathogenicity. Serotypes 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, and 23F cause most invasive disease, and pneumococci with these serotypes are often resistant to penicillin.

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