BMC Infectious Diseases 2020; 20(1): 940 -

Pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage among Bhutanese children hospitalized with clinical pneumonia: serotypes and viral co-infection.

Jullien S, Sharma R, Lhamu Mynak M, Henares D, Muñoz-Almagro C, Bassat Q, CIBERESP
Pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization (PNC) generally precedes pneumococcal disease. The purpose of this study was to determine the prevalence of PNC and to identify the pneumococcal serotypes circulating among Bhutanese children under five years of age admitted with clinical pneumonia, before the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) in the country. We also aimed to contribute to the understanding of the interplay between PNC and viral co-infection among this population. This was a prospective study conducted at the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Referral Hospital in Bhutan over 12 consecutive months. Children aged 2 to 59 months admitted with WHO-defined clinical pneumonia were eligible for recruitment. We collected blood for bacterial culture and molecular identification of S. pneumoniae, and nasopharyngeal washing for screening of respiratory viruses, and for the detection and capsular typing of S. pneumoniae by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Overall, 189 children were recruited, and PNC was tested in 121 of them (64.0%). PNC was found in 76/121 children (62.8%) and S. pneumoniae was identified in blood (both by culture and RT-PCR) in a single child. Respiratory viruses were detected in a similar proportion among children with (62/70; 88.6%) and without PNC (36/40; 90.0%; p = 1.000), but rhinovirus detection was less common among children with PNC (20/70; 28.6% versus 19/40; 47.5%; p = 0.046). Capsular typing identified 30 different serotypes. Thirty-nine children (51.3%) were colonised with two to five different serotypes. A third of the children presented with serotypes considered highly invasive. Over half of the children (44/76; 57.9%) were carrying at least one serotype included in PCV13. This study provides baseline information on the status of PNC among Bhutanese children admitted with clinical pneumonia prior to the introduction of PCV13, which is valuable to monitor its potential impact. PCV13 could theoretically have averted up to 58% of the pneumococcal infections among the children in this study, suggesting a future role for the vaccine to significantly reduce the burden associated with S. pneumoniae in Bhutan.