Adults who are admitted to a hospital during school holidays are more likely to develop pneumococcal community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) than those who are admitted while school is in session, a study reports.
The study was carried out by Dr. Priya Daniel from the Nottingham University Hospitals Trust, U.K., and colleagues, and the findings were presented at the European Respiratory Society (ERS) International Congress in London that took place Sept 3–7.
Pneumococcal pneumonia is a kind of pneumonia caused by the bacteria Streptococcus pneumoniae (or pneumococcus), and a common cause of invasive bacterial infection in children. It is also a frequent cause for CAP, as adults may develop pneumococcal disease after contact with ill children or with children who carry the bacteria in their throats.
The researchers wondered whether rates of adult pneumococcal CAP rose during periods of school holidays, when social interaction with children is greater, as is the likelihood of Streptococcus pneumoniae transmission between children and adults.
They prospectively evaluated 2,221 individuals with CAP admitted in two hospitals between September 2008 and 2013. Researchers observed that, from the initial group, 643 patients (29%) were diagnosed with pneumococcal CAP, and of these, 203 (31.5%) were admitted during school holidays. The analysis revealed that there were 38% more adult patients diagnosed with pneumococcal CAP during school holiday periods compared to non-holiday periods.
“Our results demonstrate a higher incidence of pneumococcal CAP in adults hospitalised during school holiday periods compared to term-time,” Daniel said in a news release. “Duration and intensity of child contact may play an important role in pneumococcal disease transmission to adults, however, as this is an observational analysis causality cannot be assumed.”
The study’s leading author also noted that vaccination may be an appropriate strategy when contact with children cannot be avoided, in order to protect adults at higher risk of developing severe pneumococcal pneumonia, such as the elderly (65 years or older) or people with such health conditions as diabetes, or heart, kidney and liver diseases.
In children, symptoms of pneumococcal pneumonia include fever, shivering, sweats, muscle pain and headaches, and a general sense of feeling unwell.