All about pneumococcal diseases!

All about pneumococcal diseases!

If your child is younger than 5-years-old, then this article is a must-read for you. We have put together important information regarding pneumococcal diseases from the recently concluded 2013 Asia Pneumococcal Disease Conference (PDC) for your benefit. Read on to find out more!

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Click on the photo for more about the pneumoccocal vaccine

Although pneumococcal diseases can be prevented with the aid of a vaccine, pneumococcal diseases still claim the lives of up to one million children aged below five-years-old  every year. The disease causes significant destruction in Asia whereby the deaths of children under five-years-old living in Asia make up one third of the total worldwide deaths of children aged below five from pneumococcal diseases. In fact, the World Health Organization (WHO) lists pneumococcal disease as the top cause of vaccine-preventable death worldwide. This is what you should know about kids health on such diseases.

What are pneumococcal diseases anyway?

Pneumococcal disease describes a group of illnesses caused by the bacterium Streptococcus  pneumoniae  (S.  pneumoniae),  also  called  pneumococcus,  and  can  lead  to  serious complications  such  as  pneumonia,  meningitis,  middle  ear infection and sepsis. Older adults are equally susceptible and at risk of contracting pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal  pneumoniae  is  the  most  common  form  of  the  disease  in adults and is one of the most common causes of community acquired pneumonia.

Serious health threat which needs to be addressed!

Due to the large number of casualties from pneumococcal diseases every year, the issue of eradicating this worry disease is fast becoming a growing priority. It was with this goal in mind that the 2013 Asia Pneumococcal Disease Conference (PDC) was organised and held in Singapore. Experts and specialists from all over the world gathered together in Singapore earlier in the year to share their views and concerns regarding this health threat. Healthcare experts from all walks of life who participated in the PDC are urging the public to make the fight against pneumococcal disease in young children under five and adults above 50 years old a top healthcare priority.

“Pneumococcal disease, including pneumonia, is a serious health threat for young children and older adults,” said Associate Professor Daniel Goh, Head, Department of Paediatrics, National University Hospital, and President of the Asean Paediatric Federation, at the 2013 Asia PDC, “In addition, we are also facing new challenges, including the ageing population in Singapore and the emerging serotype 19A which further highlight the need to address this life-threatening disease.”

“We can no longer deny the growing urgency to protect our children and older adults who are at risk of pneumococcal disease. Pneumococcal disease can have devastating  effects  on  individual  families  and  the  society  as  a  whole. Together,  healthcare  professionals  have  a  responsibility  to  work  alongside parents and government authorities to raise disease awareness and advance all means necessary to better protect those at risk,” said Professor Ron Dagan, Director  of  the  Pediatric  Infectious  Disease  Unit  at  the  Department  of Pediatrics at Soroka University Medical Center and the Ben-Gurion University in Beer-Sheva, Israel.

 Becoming more dangerous than ever before!

It is also becoming a growing concern among healthcare professionals that pneumococcal diseases are becoming tougher to treat. According to the latest statistics, the  mean  annual  hospitalization  rate  in Singapore for pneumococcal  disease  is supposedly 10.9  per  100,000  population. Local studies  have also shown that the prevalence of bacteria strain 19A in pediatric cases has increased from just 3 per cent to 12 per cent over the last fifteen years. Furthermore, antibiotic resistance of S. pneumoniae is an increasing problem which needs to be addressed. This implies that prevention is especially crucial for young children under five.

There is a solution!

Despite the rather grim picture painted by the healthcare experts earlier, there is a way around this worrying issue. Today,  the  advances  in  vaccines  present  physicians  with  a  more  favourable preventative  solution  against  pneumococcal  disease.  New techniques such as conjugation are proving to be a useful weapon against the threat of pneumococcal diseases. Previous conjugate vaccines have virtually destroyed the infections they were designed to combat.

Pneumococcal 13-valent conjugate vaccine (PCV-13) provides a credible option amongst other vaccines in the prevention of PD. Already, PCV-13 is the most widely used PCV for young children in the world. The PCV-13 has already gained approval from esteemed educational institutes all over the world.

Better to be safe than sorry

People often say prevention is better than a cure and we couldn’t agree more, especially with regard to the problem of pneumococcal diseases. This is especially important for children who are younger than 5-years-old. According to the Ministry of Health website, it is highly recommended for children below 5-years-old to receive a catch-up vaccination with pneumococcal vaccine if they have not been vaccinated against pneumococcal diseases yet. For any other enquiries regarding pneumococcal disease, it would be best to consult with your doctor or paediatrician.

 

If you want to find out more about child-related sicknesses and kids health, see:

Keeping HFMD cases down

Children’s teeth: Keeping them happy and healthy

Is your child eating too much or not enough?

 

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Written by

Sean Foo

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