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What is the risk of respiratory bacterial infections in the summer?

Aug 9, 2017

Bacteria account for up to 25% of upper respiratory tract infections, they are also responsible for otitis. Their presence in summer should not be neglected, and certain bacteria have even shown increased spreading rate in the summer (1):

  • Streptococcus pneumoniae is the etiology of many diseases including pneumonia, meningitis, otitis media, and sinusitis. In a study in children attending a daycare unit, it was shown that, even though S. pneumoniae was more frequent in winter, its spreading rate was the highest during the summer. The strains isolated in summer differed from the winter strains, with more transmitting characteristics. The authors concluded that to prevent infections in closed crowded areas, the summer months should not be overlooked (2).
  • Staphylococcus aureus, responsible for numerous infections, including otitis externa, is found in recreational waters, especially when there is a high density of bathers. This also explains its occurrence in the summer, especially in children (3).
  • Haemophilus influenzae is one of the major bacterial pathogens colonising the nasopharynx and often causes acute otitis media and sinusitis. A community study (children in day-care centers) showed a carriage rate of 38% in the summer, with nearly half of the carrier infected by an antibiotic resistant strain (4).




  1. Coughtrie AL et al., Epidemiological and ecological modelling reveal diversity in microbial population structures from a cross-sectional community swabbing study. Preprint article Jan 2017 doi:
  2. Abut LI et al. The characteristics of nasopharyngeal Streptococcus pneumoniae in children attending a daycare unit. New Microbiol. 2008 Jul;31(3):357-62.
  3. WHO- Microbial Hazards, guidelines for safe recreational water environments-Chapter 3
  4. Hashida K. et al. Nasopharyngeal Haemophilus influenzae Day-Care Centers Carriage in Japanese Children Attending J. Clin. Microbiol. 2008, 46(3):876.