The Changing Picture of Streptococcus Pneumoniae

Author: Jeannette Y. Wick, RPh, MBA, FASCP

Increased use of pneumococcal vaccines generally leads to a reduction in the prevalence of drug-resistant pneumococcal strains, a study finds.

The urgency associated with addressing Streptococcus pneumoniae has only increased with the appearance of antibiotic-resistant strains. An effective approach will require a multi-pronged strategy, including national immunization programs, antibiotic control programs, and ongoing surveillance.
A review published online on February 10, 2012, in Vaccine examined the relationship between antibiotic resistance and S. pneumoniae serotypes, with an emphasis on studies published after the introduction of pneumococcal vaccines. (Since these vaccines have become available and uptake has increased, most countries have reported a decrease in both antibiotic use and antibiotic-resistant S. pneumoniae.)
The researchers’ findings demonstrate how introduction of a vaccine changes the clinical picture of disease:
The authors note that vaccines that protect against more serotypes—particularly the more virulent serotypes—are advantageous. In the future, a vaccine that is protein-specific rather than serotype-specific might eliminate the need to vaccinate against specific serotypes.

Ms. Wick is a visiting professor at the University of Connecticut School of Pharmacy and a freelance writer from Virginia.