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Originally Published by StudyFinds

When it comes to the spread of illness, children are often seen as little germ factories, bringing home colds and flus from school and daycare. But a new study suggests that kids, particularly those under 10, may also be responsible for spreading a more serious type of bacteria to their grandparents and other older adults in their lives.

The bacteria in question is Streptococcus pneumoniae, or pneumococcus for short. While this germ is a common cause of relatively mild illnesses like ear and sinus infections, it can also lead to much more severe diseases such as pneumonia, sepsis, and meningitis. In fact, pneumococcal infections claim nearly two million lives worldwide each year, with the elderly and children under two being most at risk.

The study, set to be presented at the European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases (ECCMID 2024) in Barcelona, Spain, sheds new light on how this dangerous bacteria might be making its way to older adults. “If substantial pneumococcal transmission occurs between adults, then vaccination of older adults could have the additional benefit of reducing transmission and potentially serious disease,” explains lead author Dr. Anne Wyllie from the Yale School of Public Health, in a media release.

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infection prevention