Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae


Streptococcus pneumoniae (or Pneumococcus) infections are among the leading causes of illness and even death for (young) children, immune deprived patients, and the elderly worldwide. Pneumococcal infections range in clinical manifestation from bloodstream infections and ear and sinus infections to pneumonia and meningitis. Furthermore, Pneumococcus is the most commonly identified cause of bacterial pneumonia.

Pneumococcus has become the most common cause of bacterial meningitis in the US (mainly since the use of vaccines against Haemophilus influenzae type b)

Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae is a serious concern and requires prompt and sustained action to ensure the problem does not increase.

Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae: SERIOUS

Antimicrobials are medicines used to kill pathogenic (disease-causing) bacteria. However, bacteria can adapt to these drugs and become resistant. Many bacteria, including Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus), have developed or incorporated mechanisms that make then resistant to our wonder drugs (mechanisms of antibiotic action and bacteria resistance). Resistance can lead to wrong treatments, delay in treatment end even failures. 

S. pneumoniae has developed resistance to drugs in the penicillin and erythromycin groups. Eg. amoxicillin and azithromycinStreptococcus pneumoniae has also developed resistance to more specific and less commonly used drugs.

Reference and Credits  (incl. images) : Antibiotic Resistance Threats in the United States 2013, CDC. Sept. 16, 2013.

Scientist in the field? Please read: http://lumibyte.eu/colonybehavior-explorer/

Fighting the spread of resistance

But it is not all bad news, pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) is believed to be an effective tool to prevent infections. Vaccine use has already reduced the burden of invasive pneumococcal disease. The vaccine will also help reduce the prevailance of antibiotic resistance by blocking the transmission of resistant S. pneumoniae strains.

But untill vaccination coverage in high enough to have a significant effect, using the right antibiotic at the right time is crucial. Practice antibiotic stewardship; Test the effectiveness of an antibiotic before treatment!

Consequences of Antimicrobial Resistance

Mortality: Harder to treat infections are more often fatal
Morbidity: Prolonged illness increases the likelihood for resistant organisms to spread
Cost: Increased costs of tests, care and drugs
Limited solutions: Only a handful of new drugs are on horizon


Antibiotic Resistance Threats

Antibiotic Resistance Threats