Infection with the bacterium is a major cause of morbidity and mortality in both
developed and developing countries. is often found in the upper respiratory tract
and can spread directly from the nose and throat to cause invasive infections such as bacteraemia and bacterial meningitis. Those at greatest risk of invasive disease are young children, the elderly, and people with underlying illness. The rapid increase in the development of resistance to penicillin has raised concerns about the treatment and prevention of pneumococcal infections. With the impending release of the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine into the routine childhood vaccination schedule in 2005, there has been a strong emphasis on collecting information about those cases most at risk for invasive disease as well as baseline data so as to monitor the impact of pneumococcal vaccination in both children and the elderly.