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Open Access Research article

Early acquisition and high nasopharyngeal co-colonisation by Streptococcus pneumoniae and three respiratory pathogens amongst Gambian new-borns and infants

Brenda A Kwambana12, Michael R Barer2, Christian Bottomley3, Richard A Adegbola14 and Martin Antonio1*

Author Affiliations

1 Bacterial Diseases Programme, Medical Research Council Laboratories (UK), Atlantic Boulevard, Banjul, P. O. Box 273, The Gambia

2 Department of Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation, Maurice Shock Medical Sciences Building, University Road, Leicester, LE1 9HN, UK

3 Infectious Disease Epidemiology Unit, London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, Keppel Street, London, WC1E 7HT, UK

4 Infectious Diseases Development, Global Health Program, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Seattle, WA 98102, USA

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BMC Infectious Diseases 2011, 11:175  doi:10.1186/1471-2334-11-175

Published: 20 June 2011

Abstract

Background

Although Haemophilus influenzae type b (Hib), Staphylococcus aureus and Moraxella catarrhalis are important causes of invasive and mucosal bacterial disease among children, co-carriage with Streptococcus pneumoniae during infancy has not been determined in West Africa.

Methods

Species specific PCR was applied to detect each microbe using purified genomic DNA from 498 nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs collected from 30 Gambian neonates every two weeks from 0 to 6 months and bi-monthly up to 12 months.

Results

All infants carried S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis at several time points during infancy. S.pneumoniae co-colonized the infant nasopharynx with at least one other pathogen nine out of ten times. There was early colonization of the newborns and neonates, the average times to first detection were 5, 7, 3 and 14 weeks for S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae, M. catarrhalis and S. aureus respectively. The prevalence of S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis increased among the neonates and exceeded 80% by 13, 15 and 23 weeks respectively. In contrast, the prevalence of S. aureus decreased from 50% among the newborns to 20% amongst nine-week old neonates. S. pneumoniae appeared to have a strong positive association with H. influenzae (OR 5.03; 95% CI 3.02, 8.39; p < 0.01) and M. catarrhalis (OR 2.20; 95% CI 1.29; p < 0.01) but it was negatively associated with S. aureus (OR 0.53; 95% CI 0.30, 0.94; p = 0.03).

Conclusion

This study shows early acquisition and high co-carriage of three important respiratory pathogens with S. pneumoniae in the nasopharyngeal mucosa among Gambian neonates and infants. This has important potential implications for the aetiology of respiratory polymicrobial infections, biofilm formation and vaccine strategies.

Keywords:
Nasopharyngeal; PCR; respiratory pathogens