Pneumococcal infections are caused by a germ (a kind of bacteria) called Streptococcus pneumoniae. This germ can cause several different infections, including:
- Meningitis (brain infection)
- Bacteremia (bloodstream infection)
- Pneumonia (lung infection)
- Otitis media (ear infection)
How do pneumococcal diseases spread?
- The germ spreads from the nose and throat of one person to another by close, direct contact like kissing, coughing or sneezing. It can also be spread through saliva (spit) when people share things like food, cups, water bottles, straws or toothbrushes.
- Many people carry the germ and don’t get sick.
- This germ dies quickly when it is outside of the body.
- There’s no way to tell who will get sick from this germ. In Canada, between 800 and 1,000 people get meningitis and blood infections each year. And there are about 400,000 cases of middle ear infections.
People with pneumococcal infections need to take antibiotics to get better. But in some cases, even with antibiotics, the germ can cause permanent damage.