Since July 2006, an amendment to the Epidemic Act of 1950 has made not only pneumococcal meningitis but all invasive pneumococcal diseases legally notifiable. Invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPDs) are primarily the clinical presentations of meningitis, sepsis, and pneumonia/bacteremia.
Pneumococcal infections occur in all seasons, but show a seasonal cluster in the winter months. Pneumococci are part of the normal microflora of the upper respiratory tract. Pneumococci are subdivided into more than 90 serotypes on the basis of the different polysaccharide capsules. The majority of diseases are caused by a few serotypes.
Colonization of the nasopharynx with pneumococci usually occurs in infancy, usually during the first two years of life, and decreases with age. Pneumococci can be transmitted from person to person by droplets. Infections usually originate from the patient's own germ flora (endogenous) and are promoted by a lowered immune status. The WHO estimates that pneumococcal infections cause about 1.6 million deaths worldwide per year.
Pneumococcal infection can lead to localized or invasive disease. The most common clinical symptoms of pneumococcal infection are pneumonia (lobar and bronchopneumonia), bacteremia, and meningitis. In adults, pneumococcal pneumonia occurs predominantly. In addition, diseases such as joint inflammation (arthritis), heart valve inflammation (endocarditis) and peritonitis can occur. The most common non-invasive diseases are bronchitis, otitis media and sinusitis.
Antibiotic treatment of pneumococcal infections should be adapted to the clinical picture of the disease. Currently, 3 vaccines are available in Austria: a 7-valent, a 10-valent and a 13-valent conjugate vaccine (PCV7, PCV10, PCV13) and a 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine (PPV23). The Austrian Ministry of Health recommends immunisation of all children and adults from the age of 51. Detailed information on immunization in all age groups, booster vaccinations, indication and travel vaccinations is available in the Austrian Immunization Schedule. All vaccines currently licensed in Austria are published on the site of the Federal Office for Safety in Health Care.