The incidence of pneumococcal cardiac infections is unknown and the pathogenicity of such complications is poorly understood. In a prospective, international, observational study, eight of 844 patients hospitalised with Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteraemia developed endocarditis (n = 5) or pericarditis (n = 3). The clinical and microbiological characteristics of these patients were compared those of control patients. The corresponding incidence of pneumococcal endocarditis was c. 1-3/1 million inhabitants/year. There was no common pattern in the medical history of patients with an infectious cardiac complication. The severity of illness upon admission was comparable with that for patients without infectious cardiac complications, as was the 14-day mortality rate (25% and 17%, respectively). For encapsulated S. pneumoniae, no significant differences were found between patients with infectious cardiac complications and controls in adherence assays. However, on-encapsulated S. pneumoniae showed higher hydrophobicity and increased adherence to human epithelial cells.
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