Background: Longer survival in burn patients has resulted in more infectious complications, typically with Klebsiella pneumoniae, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Acinetobacter baumannii, and Staphylococcus aureus. Although Streptococcus pneumoniae infections are common in the community and can cause nosocomial infections, the incidence and risk factors for pneumococcal infections in burn patients is unclear. Methods: We performed an electronic retrospective chart review to collect rates of and risk factors for S. pneumoniae infections in patients with thermal burns from March 2003 through June 2008. Results: Of the 1838 patients admitted to the burn center, 10 were infected (0.54% incidence). Patients presented with pneumonia (seven patients, 0.38% incidence) and bacteremia (three patients, 0.16% incidence) within a week of initial burn (median 1 day, range 0-8), often in the setting of bacterial co-infection (five patients). This group was mainly young males with median 28.8% total body surface area burns; 60% had concomitant inhalational injury. Most did not have traditional risk factors for pneumococcal infection but had objective signs of infection at time of positive culture and were treated with appropriate antibiotics. Two patients in this series died, although no mortality was attributed to S. pneumoniae. Conclusions: Pneumococcal disease is not common in burn patients and generally occurs early on in hospitalization after burn making it more likely to be a community-acquired pathogen rather than nosocomial in the burn population. It should be considered in the setting of sepsis or new pulmonary infiltrates within a week after burn, but typical empiric antibiotics against the usual burn pathogens should be adequate to also treat for pneumococcal infection.
- Streptococcus pneumoniae