Q. Are there antibiotics available to treat pneumococcus?
A. Yes; however, our experience with pneumococcus presents a good example of the potential negative effects of antibiotic overuse. During the 20th Century, although vaccines were available, better vaccines were needed. However, because antibiotics, such as penicillin, were effective in treating pneumococcal infections, vaccine development was not prioritized. Unfortunately, over time many strains became resistant to not only penicillin, but also other broader spectrum antibiotics used to combat bacterial infections. In fact today, some strains of pneumococcus are resistant to most antibiotics that are available. It was not until this resistance manifested itself that development of a pneumococcal vaccine one again became a priority.