CDC Reports Increase in Pneumonia Associated with H1N1

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Yesterday, the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced an increase serious pneumococcal infections associated with H1N1 influenza around the country.

The news comes from the CDC's Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) sites which have seen an increase in serious cases of pneumococcal disease coincident with increases in influenza-associated hospitalizations.

The Denver metropolitan area is 1 of 10 active bacterial core surveillance sites where investigation into this issue is ongoing. In Denver Metro, the number of cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) has tripled compared with the 5-year average for the month of October (5-yr average ~20; total number in October 2009, 58).

The increase in IPD cases in the Denver Metro area is primarily among younger adults with 36 out of 58 (62%) cases occurred among 20-59 year olds. In a typical non-pandemic year, most IPD cases occur among persons 65 years of age and older.

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What occurred in Denver is likely an indicator of what is happening in other parts of the country. Data shown below is preliminary and subject to change upon further investigation.

Only about 25% of high-risk adults younger than 65 years have received the vaccine that protects against pneumococcal disease.

Influenza infections can make people more likely to develop bacterial pneumonia. Pneumococcus is the most common cause of bacterial pneumonia. Pneumococcal infections are a serious complication of seasonal and 2009 H1N1 influenza infections and can cause death.

The symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include fever, cough, shortness of breath, and chest pain. The symptoms of pneumococcal meningitis include stiff neck, fever, mental confusion and disorientation, and visual sensitivity to light (photophobia). The symptoms of pneumococcal bacteremia may be similar to some of the symptoms of pneumonia and meningitis,along with joint pain and chills.

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