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Pneumococcal meningitis is an infection of the membranes that cover the brain and spinal cord caused by the pneumococcal bacteria. The pneumococcal bacteria may also cause severe disease such as:
septicaemia or blood poisoning
infections of the joints, around the heart or of the bones and the soft tissue beneath the skin.
The bacteria also causes pneumonia, ear and sinus infections. Pneumococcal disease may be a complication from a viral infection.
Each year in New Zealand more than 150 children under the age of five years are admitted to hospitals with pneumococcal disease.
About one in 10 children with pneumococcal meningitis die and one in six survivors will have permanent brain damage
About one in three children will be left with a hearing impairment after pneumococcal meningitis.
Pneumonia and septicaemia (blood poisoning) leads to hospitalisation.
Less severe illness, such as ear infections, may lead to deafness.
Children with medical conditions such as congenital heart disease, some chronic lung diseases, kidney diseases, HIV infection, and children whose immune system is lowered through chemotherapy, radiation therapy, or organ transplant are at higher risk of pneumococcal disease.
Children with spinal fluid shunts and with cochlear implants are also at higher risk of pneumococcal disease.
Disclaimer - The Meningitis Foundation Aotearoa New Zealand promotes the prevention, control and awareness of meningitis. It is not a professional medical authority. The text on this website provides general information about meningitis and septicaemia, not medical advice. It is not intended for use in the diagnosis or treatment of these diseases. Please consult your doctor to discuss the information or if you are concerned someone may be ill.
We need your help in reducing and preventing meningitis. Your support will assist the Foundation’s work in the fight against this disease.