Question about pneumococcal antibodies

Jay Mone' jmone at MARAUDER.MILLERSV.EDU
Tue Sep 29 08:34:45 EST 1998


Mark,
I can't answer all of your questions, but I can help with some.

Pneumococci occur as normal flora in many individuals.  What this 
means is that some people carry these organisms for most or all of 
their life, usually with no ill effects.  This is why diseases such as 
inner ear infections and meningitis are most commonly caused by 
bacteria such as the pneumococcus.  Its already living in the throat, 
and under certain circumstances, makes its way into the inner ear or 
into the blood stream, and possibly into the central nervous system.  
If the bacteria is a normal flora, there is really no way to eliminate 
it from the body.  Your son appears to have a high titer of 
anti-pneumococcal antibodies, indicating a past infection.  This 
should provide some protection against serious disease.  A good way to 
gauge the level of immunity is to compare his antipneumo titer to the 
titers of the other things he was vaccinated against.  
There is a new pnemuococcal vaccine, but your son already has 
immunity, and probab;y would not benefit much from further 
stimulation.  The side effects of the new vaccine are still being 
investigated.
Long term antibiotic therapy will not rid your son of this bacteria.  
Instead, it is likely to result in the appearance of 
penicillin-resistance, not only of the pneumococci, but of other 
normal flora components.  It is not advised unless there is a real 
indication, such as immunosuppression, which doesn't appear to be the 
case here.

Jay Mone'
Millersville University



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