Immunisation of children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV) may affect the bacterial-ecology of the nasopharynx, including colonisation by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae and Staphylococcus aureus. The aim of this study was to evaluate the effect of infant PCV-immunisation on the nasopharyngeal ecology of these potentially pathogenic bacteria in a rural African setting.
Two cross sectional surveys were undertaken from May to October in 2009 (Period-1) which coincided with the introduction of 7-valent PCV (PCV7) and in May-October 2011 (Period-2). Consenting household members, where there was a child <2 years of age in residence, had nasopharyngeal swabs undertaken for culture.
From Period-1 to Period-2 in children 0-2 years and 3-12 years, prevalence of overall S. pneumoniae colonisation decreased from 74.9% to 67.0% (p<0.001) and H. influenzae declined among children 3-12 years (55.1-45.3%, p<0.001) but not among those <2 years. The prevalence of S. aureus remained unchanged in all children. Competitive associations were found between S. pneumoniae and S. aureus and between H. influenzae and S. aureus among children. In individuals >12 years, the prevalence of colonisation decreased from 11.2% to 6.8%, 16.7% to 8.8% and 31.2% to 23.7% for S. pneumoniae, H. influenzae and S. aureus, respectively; p<0.001 for all comparions. Synergistic relationships for S. aureus with H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae were observed in both periods among this group.