DRSP stands for drug resistant Streptococcus
pneumoniae, a bacterium that has developed
resistance to at least one drug that is commonly used
for pneumococcal infections.
The antibiotic that
DRSP is most commonly resistant to is penicillin, but
DRSP may also be resistant to other antibiotics as
How are people affected by DRSP?
DRSP can affect people in two different ways — colonization or infection.
When a person carries
DRSP as part of his or her normally present bacteria (also known as normal flora), the person is said to be colonized.
If a person has an infection that is caused
by DRSP, the person is considered to be infected.
How common are infections due to Streptococcus pneumoniae?
Streptococcus pneumoniae infections are among the leading
causes worldwide of illness and death for young
children, people with underlying debilitating
medical conditions, and the elderly.
Each year in the
United States, pneumococcal disease is estimated to
3,000 cases of meningitis (infection of the
lining of the brain and spinal cord)
50,000 cases of
bacteremia (infection of the blood)
cases of otitis media (infection of the middle ear)
How does DRSP spread from person-to-person?
The most common ways DRSP is spread are through
large respiratory droplets (i.e., coughing or sneezing)
or direct contact from person-to-person.
carry Streptococcus pneumoniae as part of their normal flora
may spread the infection to others without ever
How can you stop DRSP spread from person-to-person?
The same methods that would prevent the spread of
pneumococcal infections are effective in preventing
the spread of DRSP.
mouth and nose while sneezing or coughing
Detection and treatment of
persons who carry Streptococcus pneumoniae bacteria as part of
their normal flora
There is a vaccine available that protects against the
23 most common serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices
(ACIP) recommends that the vaccine be
administered to people 2 years old or older
who have certain underlying medical conditions
associated with increased risk for pneumococcal
disease and its complications, and to all people
greater than or equal to 65 years old.
Is DRSP more of a concern than other
Yes and no. DRSP infections are no more virulent
than other pneumococcal infections. However,
pneumococcal infections can be extremely serious
and all infections are of concern to health care
workers and patients.
DRSP is of particular
importance because infections caused by DRSP may
be very difficult to treat with the antibiotics that are
How can you prevent the spread of DRSP?
The number of pneumococcal infections would be
likely to decrease if more people were vaccinated
against the disease. Talk with your doctor to find out
if you could benefit from vaccination against
The problem of drug resistance would be likely to
decrease if antibiotics were used more carefully. If
you are prescribed an antibiotic for a pneumococcal
infection (or any other infection), be sure and take
the entire prescription as directed. (If the medicine is
not agreeing with you, contact your health care
provider and he or she may be able to prescribe
Never give an antibiotic to
anyone for whom it was not prescribed and never
save 'leftover' antibiotic for future use.
Where can I get more information?
Contact your doctor or the Southern Nevada Health District, Office of Epidemiology at (702) 759-1300.
This fact sheet was based on the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention’s Defining the Public Health Impact of Drug-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae: Report of a Working
Group. MMWR 1996;45 (No. RR-1).