Pneumonia can lead to TB

Dangerous pneumonia: vaccination recommended

Status: 23.01.2018 10:00 a.m. | archive
Pneumococci can cause life-threatening pneumonia within a few hours.

Pneumococci are the main cause of bacterial pneumonia. More than 5,000 people die every year in Germany as a result. The bacteria can also cause other diseases, such as sinus, middle ear, and meningitis, and severe general inflammation such as blood poisoning. Children under two years of age, the chronically ill - for example, people with heart and lung diseases - and especially older people aged 60 and over are particularly at risk.

Pneumococci are common all over the world

Pneumococci are bacteria from the streptococcal family. They are spread around the world and are transmitted by droplet infections, for example when coughing or sneezing. The bacteria can be found in the nasopharynx of many people without them becoming ill. It is not exactly known why pneumococci suddenly cause illness in some and not in others.

Symptoms are not always clear

The pathogens can trigger life-threatening pneumonia within a few hours, which can lead to organ failure and ultimately death. The symptoms are not always clear. Many pneumonia caused by pneumococci are only noticeable by a general feeling of illness and a little cough. Some of the sick have a high fever with chills. Confusion can also occur. If the lungs are already very purulent, the patients do not cough. The diagnosis is then often made with a considerable delay. If the course is severe, around ten percent of those affected die, and if the immune system is weakened, even around 30 percent.

Quick action counts

If there is an inflammation caused by pneumococci, action must be taken quickly. Treatment with antibiotics usually works well, but resistance is increasing. This means that the drugs have limited or no effect at all against the pathogens. Warning symptoms after which an antibiotic should be given include:

  • Body temperature over 37.8 degrees
  • crackling noises in the lungs
  • Heart rate greater than 100 per minute
  • Blood oxygen saturation below 95 percent

Risk groups should get vaccinated

Vaccination reliably reduces the risk of developing pneumococcal infections or serious complications. It can be done together with the flu vaccination. In the risk group between 65 and 79 years, however, according to the Robert Koch Institute, only 31 percent of people are vaccinated.

The vaccination is usually well tolerated and can be carried out all year round. Fatigue, fever and headache as well as muscle and joint pain may occur in the first three days after vaccination. It is recommended for all adults over the age of 60 and people with diabetes, chronic heart or lung diseases, liver or kidney diseases and diseases of the nervous system. People who have had their spleen removed or who have diseases of the spleen or bone marrow should also be vaccinated.

Vaccine protects against 23 types of pneumococci

The Standing Vaccination Commission recommends vaccination with the pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine PPSV23, which protects adults from 23 of the most important types of pneumococci, for all persons aged 60 and over. A revaccination at least six years apart is advisable. Only special risk groups (e.g. people with immunodeficiency) should also receive a conjugate vaccine. The conjugate vaccine (PCV13) against 13 common types of pneumococci has been available for some time. The positive effect on children under two years of age is undisputed. But it is unclear whether it makes sense for older people to use it. There are no comparative studies.

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Visit | 01/23/2018 | 8:15 pm