High rate of antibiotic resistance among pneumococci carried by healthy children in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.BMC Pediatr. 2018 11 19; 18(1):361.BPed
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccines have been introduced in the infant immunisation programmes in many countries to reduce the rate of fatal pneumococcal infections. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DR Congo) a 13-valent vaccine (PCV13) was introduced in 2013. Data on the burden of circulating pneumococci among children after this introduction are lacking. In this study, we aimed to determine the risk factors related to pneumococcal carriage in healthy Congolese children after the vaccine introduction and to assess the antibiotic resistance rates and serotype distribution among the isolated pneumococci.
In 2014 and 2015, 794 healthy children aged one to 60 months attending health centres in the eastern part of DR Congo for immunisation or growth monitoring were included in the study. Data on socio-demographic and medical factors were collected by interviews with the children's caregivers. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from all the children for bacterial culture, and isolated pneumococci were further tested for antimicrobial resistance using disc diffusion tests and, when indicated, minimal inhibitory concentration (MIC) determination, and for serotype/serogroup by molecular testing.
The pneumococcal detection rate was 21%, being higher among children who had not received PCV13 vaccination, lived in rural areas, had an enclosed kitchen, were malnourished or presented with fever (p value < 0.05). The predominant serotypes were 19F, 11, 6A/B/C/D and 10A. More than 50% of the pneumococcal isolates belonged to a serotype/serogroup not included in PCV13. Eighty per cent of the isolates were not susceptible to benzylpenicillin and non-susceptibility to ampicillin and ceftriaxone was also high (42 and 37% respectively). Almost all the isolates (94%) were resistant to trimethoprim-sulphamethoxazole, while 43% of the strains were resistant to ≥3 antibiotics.
Our study shows alarmingly high levels of reduced susceptibility to commonly used antibiotics in pneumococci carried by healthy Congolese children. This highlights the importance of local antibiotic resistance surveillance and indicates the needs for the more appropriate use of antibiotics in the area. The results further indicate that improved living conditions are needed to reduce the pneumococcal burden, in addition to PCV13 vaccination.