Pneumococcal pneumonia is caused by bacteria (such as Streptococcus pneumoniae), viruses or fungi. Pneumococcal pneumonia infects the upper respiratory tract and can spread to the nervous system, lungs, ears, or blood if not treated immediately.
Most people carry the pneumococcal pneumonia-causing bacteria in their throat. A simple lung or flu infection, particularly in those at risk (people aged over 65 and those with medical and lifestyle risk factors can develop into pneumonia.
There are more than 90 subtypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae. A vaccine usually only contains 7 subtypes.
This disease is common among children under 5 years old or adults 65 years old and above.
Based on population studies (estimates), there are 40,000 cases of pneumococcal disease each year in the US; and about 4,400 deaths each year, with the highest mortality rate being in the elderly with underlying conditions (deficiency and toxicity).
One in 10 Australians aged over 65 who are hospitalised with pneumonia die.