Streptococcus pneumoniae – Penicillin

The WHO warns of Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria resistant to penicillin-antibiotics. Here you can see their prevalence in Europe’s hospitals. The percentage indicates the ratio of the bacterium found to be resistant to this particular antibiotic.


The bug

These bugs cause pneumococcal infections – one of the most common causes of pneumonia and one of the main causes of death of children under five years old. The bacteria can cause meningitis and kills around one million children every year, predominantly in developing countries. The elderly can also be vulnerable. Streptococcus pneumoniae can live in the lungs of healthy people without causing symptoms, and from there, go on to infect other people.

The resistance

Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928 and it is still used today. It disturbs bacteria as they construct their cell walls. If the cell wall’s building blocks are changed by mutations, resistance can arise. 


Illustration des Streptococcus pneumoniae mit Resistenz gegen Penicillin

Streptococcus pneumoniae can form lines that can be seen with a microscope. They infect the lung and sometimes the brain. The affect primarily children, the elderly, and the poor. They are transmitted from person to person and can kill.


Text: Hristio Boytchev

Illustration: Nick Böse

Graphics: Simon Wörpel

Copy Editing: Christine Coester