Health awareness

Learn more about invasive pneumococcal disease and how it spreads

Invasive pneumococcal disease can lead to a number of serious illnesses in children

January 27, 2023

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What is invasive pneumococcal disease?

Invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) is an infection caused by a bacteria called Streptococcus pneumoniae. It can lead to a number of serious illnesses including pneumococcal bacteremia (an infection of the blood) and pneumococcal meningitis (an infection of the coverings of the brain and spinal cord).

Children under the age of 2 and those with certain underlying medical conditions are particularly vulnerable to invasive pneumococcal infection, according to the World Health Organization.


different types of S. pneumoniae, called serotypes; however, a smaller number are responsible for most cases of IPD in children


of IPD cases occur in children under 2 years of age, on average

How does it spread?

Invasive pneumococcal bacteria can spread anywhere, anytime through coughing, sneezing or close contact, and by people who are healthy or sick. Children can carry the bacteria in their nose or throat without demonstrating signs of illness.

While infections are more common during winter and early spring, IPD can be contracted year-round and strike quickly without warning.

What you can ask your pediatrician about invasive pneumococcal disease:

  • Is my child at risk for invasive pneumococcal disease?
  • Could invasive pneumococcal disease harm my child?

“There are steps people can take to be proactive about their family’s health. Parents should speak with their health care providers to learn more about invasive pneumococcal disease and the serious illnesses it can cause.”

  • Dr. Ulrike Buchwald, distinguished scientist, section head for pneumococcal, global clinical development