The WHO estimates that globally Streptococcus pneumonia kills close to 500,000 children under 5 years annually. That’s a HUGE number. And that’s just children UNDER FIVE.
S. pneumonia can cause diseases such as pneumonia. meningitis, and bacteremia. (Refer to graphic below.) These are diseases that put babies and children in the hospital.
I’ve been hospitalized twice for pneumonia and I can’t imagine having to watch my child or any child go through such pain and suffering.
We do have a vaccine to help protect from this disease. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV)–there are two versions–have had clear public health benefits. Not only does it reduce the invasive disease in vaccinated children, but also in elderly adults who benefit from herd immunity.
Coverage is increasing globally, but it’s nowhere near optimal vaccination rates.
Most of these child deaths occur in developing countries where they do not yet have access to vaccines.
Flu season is upon us here in the United States, and it’s not something to be taken lightly. I’m very passionate about flu education and information, and that’s why I’m breaking down everything you need to know about the flu, the influenza virus, and the flu vaccines into three different posts over the next few weeks.
Here, I want to focus on what the “flu” actually is, because I think the word “flu” is very misused in the United States. I often hear or overhear people saying something along the lines of, “I was throwing up all night, I must have the flu.” While the flu can cause vomiting and diarrhea, more often in children than adults, the true flu is actually a respiratory illness coupled with muscle aches, extreme tiredness, and sometimes a fever. Adults with bouts of vomiting and not the above mentioned common flu symptoms often have some other sort of stomach virus, possibly food poisoning, or something else.
The flu is also often confused with the common cold. Because both the cold and the flu are respiratory illnesses, sometimes it’s hard to tell what you have come down with. But, the flu tends to be a bit worse than a normal cold due to a fever, body aches, extreme tiredness, and a more intense dry cough. The typical cold usually results in a runny/stuffy nose and does not usually lead to serious complications, whereas the flu can lead to complications, life-threatening conditions, and even death.
I once heard someone say that when you sneeze, droplets of saliva fly through the air and can land five feet away.Five feet!? Yuck! I’m not sure EXACTLY how far those droplets are carried through the air, but what I am sure of is that within those droplets are potentially millions of viral particles and thousands of bacterial cells.
One nasty bacteria in particular, called Haemophilus influenza (H. influenza), may be living in your nose and throat at all times and you do not even know it. In fact, you may not have ever come down with the illness and still have it in your body. And unfortunately, should someone who has it cough or sneeze and your child inhales the particles, it has the potential to make your child life-threateningly ill.