[Severe pneumococcal infections in the elderly - preventable by vaccination.]
Elderly people are more susceptible to pneumococcal infections. Data in Germany from 2005-2010 shows that especially seniors are prone to develop serious complications such as sepsis. Women are obviously less affected than men. Most of the infections occurred during the winter months. The majority of isolates, i.e., about 80%, possess capsular polysaccharide antigens which are represented in the 23-valent vaccine. Consequently, it could be assumed that the severe complications ensuing long hospital stays and associated with a high mortality could have been avoided, if the elderly people would have been vaccinated, which, however, was only true in a small proportion (28%). Recently, a new conjugated vaccine was introduced to the market. In principle, several antibiotics are available for direct antibacterial treatment. All isolates are susceptible to cefotaxime as well as to ceftriaxone. Resistance to penicillin as well as ampicillin is very rare in Germany. The vast majority of isolates are susceptible to quinolones such as levofloxacin and moxifloxacin. Resistance to macrolides, for example to erythromycin, occurs to a certain extent but the percentage has been declining in recent years. Nevertheless, in many instances therapy is too late. Thus, prevention is of great importance.
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