What?! That's what I said. This is what Randy was diagnosed with on Tuesday. This is what has kept him sick with cold/flu/ear infection symptoms for almost a month. This is what was festering in all that ear drainage.
According to the CDC, Streptococcus pneumoniae (S. pneumoniae or "pneumococcus") is a bacterium commonly found in the nasopharynx (back of the nose) of healthy people. The presence of pneumococcus in the nasopharynx is referred to as "carriage". Most people have been carriers of S. pneumoniae at some point in their lives. Pneumococcal carriage is more common in young children, is usually transient and generally causes no illness. S. pneumoniae is an exclusively human pathogen and is spread from person-to-person by respiratory droplets, meaning that transmission generally occurs during coughing or sneezing to others within 6 feet of the carrier. Thus, carriers of S. pneumoniae, while generally healthy, are an important source of infection and disease for others.
Occasionally (Randy fits in the category), S. pneumoniae will spread from the nasopharynx of a colonized person into other parts of the body and cause diseases, including otitis media (ear infections), sinusitis (sinus infections) and pneumonia (lung infections). In addition, S. pneumoniae can sometimes get into places in the body that are normally sterile (free of bacteria) including the blood, causing bacteremia, or the lining of the brain and spinal cord, causing meningitis. When pneumococci get into these sterile places in the body, it is called "invasive" pneumococcal disease. A relatively small number of serotypes of S. pneumoniae account for most invasive disease. Invasive pneumococcal infections can result in serious complications or death.
So Randy is now on another antibiotic and is still using the antibiotic ear drops twice a day. He follows up with the ENT on Monday. He also gets a CT scan on Monday. I called the neurosurgeon's office and asked if this bacteria could penetrate the brain barrier resulting in a shunt infection. The nurse practitioner said it is possible, but unlikely. She said if his shunt were to get infected by this bacteria, the symptoms would be the same as any other shunt malfunction which is vomiting, irritability, lethargy, and possibly pain. I do feel better that he already has a CT scheduled just in case.
10 months ago