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The remaining challenges of pneumococcal disease in adults

Author(s): E. Ludwig | P. Bonanni | G. Rohde | A. Sayiner | A. Torres

Journal: European Respiratory Review
ISSN 0905-9180

Volume: 21;
Issue: 123;
Start page: 57;
Date: 2012;
Original page

Keywords: Adults | community-acquired pneumonia | immunisation programmes | invasive pneumococcal disease | pneumococcal conjugate vaccine | pneumococcal pneumonia

Pneumococcal disease can be divided into invasive disease, i.e. when bacteria are detected in normally sterile body fluids, and noninvasive disease. Pneumococcal disease occurs more frequently in younger children and older adults. It is estimated that, in 2050, 30.3% of the European population will be ≥65 yrs old, compared with 15.7% in 2000. Preventive medicine, including vaccination, is essential for the promotion of healthy ageing. Uptake rates for influenza vaccination in the elderly are generally low, despite recommendations in many countries. In addition, it has been reported that influenza infections can make people more susceptible to pneumococcal infections. Despite pneumococcal vaccination, case fatality rates for patients hospitalised with invasive pneumococcal disease have remained at around 12% since the 1950s. Even when effective antibiotic therapy is administered, mortality can be high amongst immunocompetent patients in intensive care. Timely and accurate diagnosis of pneumococcal disease and identification of patients at high risk of poor outcome is essential to ensure that adequate treatment, including hospitalisation when necessary, is implemented as early as possible. Improved diagnostic techniques and more efficacious treatments may help to reduce the burden of pneumococcal disease, but preventive measures, such as influenza and pneumococcal vaccination, should be promoted in order to avoid preventable disease, particularly in the elderly.
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