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S. pneumoniae Leads to Death in Many Under 5

Prevention and treatment can help achieve global mortality reduction goals

FRIDAY, Sept. 11 (HealthDay News) -- Approximately 11 percent of all deaths in children aged 1 to 59 months are due to infection with Streptococcus pneumoniae, and greater efforts to prevent and treat disease associated with the bacterium could help attain the United Nations Millennium Development Goal 4 of reducing child mortality by two-thirds between 1990 and 2015, according to a study published in the Sept. 12 issue of The Lancet.

Katherine L. O'Brien, M.D., of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in Baltimore, and colleagues analyzed data from World Health Organization country-specific estimates of all-cause pneumonia cases and deaths, and conducted a literature review to estimate the disease burden of a range of associated diseases.

There were approximately 14.5 million episodes of serious pneumococcal disease in 2000, which caused approximately 826,000 deaths among children aged 1 to 59 months, the researchers found. Of these deaths, 91,000 were among HIV-positive children, while 735,000 were among HIV-negative children. S. pneumoniae causes about 11 percent of deaths (excluding pneumococcal deaths in HIV-positive children) in children in this age range. Ten African and Asian countries accounted for 61 percent of the deaths among HIV-negative children, the authors note.

"Both vaccination and improved treatment are urgently needed in Africa and Asia, which together account for 95 percent of all pneumococcal deaths," O'Brien and colleagues conclude. "Our results indicate that large benefits would be achieved by focusing on countries with large populations and moderate incidence, and on selected countries with high incidence and mortality."

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