Ear Ache (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
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All about Ear Ache (Streptococcus pneumoniae)
FACTS: Ear aches are one of the most common health ailments found in young children – and most are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria. (Young children are a common cause of ear aches in adults!)
Nearly every child gets at least one; and most, several. Why? Partly, children suffer a disproportionate number of upper respiratory infections; and partly, their ear tubes are shorter and straighter than adult tubes, which provides bacteria with easier access.
As the number one cause of emergency room admission each year (and the number two cause of regular doctor visits), ear aches are also responsible for more antibiotic prescriptions than any other condition. Unfortunately, S. pneumoniae is beginning to adapt. In 1967, antibiotic-resistant strains of S. pneumoniae appeared in New Guinea, and over the last 30 years they have spread all over the world.
Nearly 80% of ear aches will clear up without antibiotics, and public health authorities now recommend against using them for at least a short waiting period in order to retard the evolution of far more dangerous resistant strains. Since S. pneumoniae can also cause much more serious illnesses such as meningitis and pneumonia, it's important to listen up!
|It’s named after the disease process it was isolated from, pneumonia.
|They are round bacteria that measure 0.5 to 1.25 micrometers and travel in pairs, called diplococci.
|Where It Lives
|Streptococcus pneumoniae is a bacteria that causes pneumococcal infections, such as pneumonia and ear infections. They’re normal inhabitants of the respiratory tract of healthy people, but can cause disease in very young children and elderly.
|It can cause symptoms that range from runny nose, head ache, ear ache, and fever to chest pain, weakness, and confusion, depending on where the infection is located.
|The pneumococcoal vaccine comes in 4 doses.
|First isolated by Louis Pasteur in 1881 from rabies patients.
It’s widely used to teach science and to learn more about drug resistance, microbial interactions, and even bioterrorism!
Famous people who died of it:
1990: Jim Henson, the creator of the Muppets, died of pneumonia from S. pneumoniae.