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J Med Microbiol. 2014 Mar;63(Pt 3):393-8. doi: 10.1099/jmm.0.068726-0. Epub 2013 Dec 2.

Oropharyngeal and nasopharyngeal sampling for the detection of adolescent Streptococcus pneumoniae carriers.

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Pediatric Highly Intensive Care Unit, Department of Pathophysiology and Transplantation, Università degli Studi di Milano, Fondazione IRCCS Ca' Granda Ospedale Maggiore Policlinico, Milan, Italy.


Monitoring the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage makes it possible to evaluate the epidemiological characteristics of Streptococcus pneumoniae disease and the theoretical coverage offered by pneumococcal vaccines. It has been demonstrated that the nasopharyngeal (NP) sampling of respiratory secretions is superior to oropharyngeal (OP) sampling for identifying pneumococci carried by younger children, but adult data are conflicting and there are no published studies of adolescents. In order to compare the efficiency of OP and NP sampling in identifying and quantifying S. pneumoniae carriage in healthy adolescents, 2 swab samples were obtained from 530 adolescents aged 15-19 years, the first taken from the posterior pharyngeal wall through the mouth (OP) and the second through the nose (NP). Bacterial genomic DNA was tested for the autolysin-A-encoding gene (lytA) and wzg (cpsA) gene of S. pneumoniae in order to evaluate pneumococcal carrier status. All of the positive cases were serotyped. S. pneumoniae was identified in 35.8% of the OP swabs and 3.5% of the NP swabs (P<0.0001). The serotypes included in the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) were found in all but two OP samples (98.9%) and only 64.7% of the NP samples (P<0.0001). The most frequently identified PCV13 serotype in both groups was 19F, followed by serotypes 5 and 9V. In conclusion, OP sampling appeared significantly more effective than NP sampling in identifying and characterizing pneumococcal carrier status in adolescents. This suggests that OP sampling should be used when evaluating the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage among adolescents and the theoretical coverage offered by PCV13.

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