Streptococcus pneumoniae and meningitis

Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria can cause life-threatening meningitis. The bacteria enter the body through the nose and throat and can cause infections in the lungs, ears, or sinuses. Meningitis may develop if bacteria travel from the nose and throat to the brain.

Streptococcus pneumoniae accounts for about half of the cases of bacterial meningitis in the United States every year.1 Meningitis caused by this bacteria occurs most often in children younger than 2 years and in adults.

Approximately 20% of people with meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria die every year.1

Vaccines are available to prevent illnesses caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae.


  1. Roos KL, Tyler KL (2008). Meningitis, encephalitis, brain abscess, and empyema. In AS Fauci et al., eds., Harrison's Principles of Internal Medicine, 17th ed., vol. 2, pp. 2621–2641. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Last Updated: December 24, 2008

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