3.2  Overview of bacterial vaccine-preventable diseases

Vaccine-preventable diseases are important causes of death in children. The causes, infectious agents, modes of transmission, symptoms, and methods of prevention, treatment and control of the most important bacterial vaccine-preventable diseases are summarised in Table 3.1. Note that some of the diseases shown in Table 3.1, such as diphtheria and pertussis, are no longer common in Ethiopia, or in other countries where vaccination in childhood against their infectious agents is widespread. Tuberculosis and bacterial pneumonia are discussed in detail in later study sessions.

In this study session, we will describe tetanus and bacterial meningitis, so that you will be able to identify and refer cases of these diseases, and also know how you might help to prevent them in your community.

Table 3.1  Causes, transmission, symptoms, prevention and control methods for common bacterial vaccine-preventable diseases.

DiseaseBacterial cause (scientific name)Mode of transmissionSymptomsPrevention and control methods
Tuberculosis

Mycobacterium tuberculosis

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingChronic cough, weight loss, fever, decreased appetite (more details are given in Study Session 13)BCG vaccine, chemoprophylaxis, early diagnosis and treatment
Diphtheria

Corynebacterium diphtheriae and its toxin

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingSore throat, loss of appetite, and slight feverDiphtheria vaccine, combined with two or four other vaccines against pertussis, tetanus, BCG, etc.
Pertussis

Bordetella pertussis

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingRunny nose, watery eyes, sneezing, fever, and continuous cough, followed by vomitingPertussis vaccine, combined with two or four other vaccines against diphtheria, tetanus, BCG, etc.
Tetanus

Clostridium tetani

From soil into a wound or broken skin, through direct contactStiffness in the jaw and neck, with stomach and muscle spasmsTetanus vaccine for children, combined with other vaccines, or given alone for women of childbearing age
Meningitis (infection of the brain or spinal cord)

Neisseria meningitidis

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingFever, headache, neck stiffness, comaMeningococcal vaccine and treatment by antibiotics

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingFever, headache, neck stiffness, comaTreatment by antibiotics; a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) will be introduced to Ethiopia soon
Pneumonia (infection of the lungs)

Streptococcus pneumoniae

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingCough, fast breathing/difficult breathing (more details are given in Study Session 35)Treatment by antibiotics; a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) will be introduced to Ethiopia soon

Haemophilus influenzae

Respiratory by coughing or sneezingCough, fast breathing/difficult breathing (more details are given in Study Session 35)Treatment by antibiotics; Hib is part of the pentavalent vaccine

3.1  Vaccines, immunity and vaccination

3.3  Tetanus