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Spreading antibiotic resistance diminishing treatment options in bacterial pneumonia cases


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Data complied by state and national health agencies confirm that streptococcus pneumonia infections rank among the leading causes of illness and death in youngsters, people with underlying medical conditions and elderly individuals worldwide.

Pneumococcal disease is the most frequently identified cause of bacterial pneumonia.

Annually in the United States, the disease accounts for approximately 125,000 cases of pneumonia requiring hospitalization of patients.

The timing of medical treatment and the type of antibiotic prescribed are critical to the patient's survival.

Resistance to penicillin and antimicrobial agents has spread rapidly across the U.S., creating a major complicating factor in treating bacterial pneumonia, points out the Utah Department of Health's epidemiology bureau.

In several areas of the nation, more than 30 percent of pneumococcal isolated are not susceptible to penicillin.

Despite appropriate antimicrobial therapy and intensive medical care, the overall fatality rate for pneumococcal bacterium is 15 percent to 20 percent among adults, indicates the epidemiology bureau.

Among elderly patients diagnosed and hospitalized with bacterial pneumonia, the fatality rate registers at approximately 30 percent to 40 percent.

The infections account to an estimated 40,000 deaths annually in the U.S.

The number of deaths related to pneumonia infections exceeds the fatalities reported as a result of any other vaccine preventable bacterial disease.

Approximately 50 percent of the deaths can be prevented via an under-utilized vaccine that has been available since the early 1980s.

Thousands of hospitalizations could be avoided and hundreds of lives could be saved in Utah simply by vaccinating.

In Utah, the seventh leading case of death is due to pneumonia and influenza.

Among Utah's elderly residents ages 65 years and older, pneumonia and influenza are the fifth leading cause of death.

Hospitals at locations across Utah admitted 3,465 older patients with pneumonia in 2000.

Approximately 10 percent of the admitted patients died from pneumonia.

Data compiled by the state's 2002 risk factor surveillance system indicate that 66.3 percent of elderly Utahns have been vaccinated against pneumonia.

The trend is incrementally increasing, but the office of epidemiology stresses the fact that state health agencies have a long way to go in alleviating problems associated with the disease.

In addition to adults 65 years of age or older, the Utah Department of Health recommends that the following Carbon County residents should obtain pneumonia vaccinations:

•Individuals older than 2 years of age who have long-term medical conditions.

The health problems include heart, lung or sickle cell disease, diabetes, alcoholism, cirrhosis and leaks of cerebrospinal fluid.

•Individuals ages 2 years and older who have a medical condition that lowers the body's resistance of infection.

The debilitating medical conditions include:

Hodgkin's disease.

Lymphoma or leukemia.

Kidney failure.

Multiple myeloma.

Aphrotic syndrome.

HIV and AIDS.

Damaged or no spleen.

Organ transplants.

•Individuals 2 and older who take drugs or treatments that lower the body's resistance to infection.

Examples of the drugs or treatments in question include long-term steroids, certain cancer medications and radiation therapy.

•Utahns residing in special environments or social settings like long-term care facilities as well as Alaska natives and certain American Indian populations.

A single dose of pneumococcal vaccine is recommended for the majority of Carbon County residents who are 65 years of age and older, explains the state epidemiology bureau.

However, some of the individuals who received the pneumonia vaccine at a younger age may require a booster dose after five years.

Candidates for the vaccine should receive a dose even after experiencing one or more episodes of invasive pneumonia, points out the state health department bureau.

An infection does not automatically produce immunity to different serotypes of the disease.

The vaccine is safe and effective in preventing illness and death to pneumococcal disease.

After receiving a pneumonia vaccination, some patients may experience mild side effects.

But the side effects are usually minor and last a short time, according to the state health department.

The most commonly reported side effects include swelling and soreness at the injection site.

Some people experience fever and muscle pain after receiving pneumonia vaccinations.

The dangers associated with pneumococcal disease significantly outweigh the potential risks related to the vaccine, concludes the state epidemiology bureau.


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