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Pneumonia (Nathan). 2016 Sep 5;8:15. doi: 10.1186/s41479-016-0015-9. eCollection 2016.

Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children in Western Australia carry different serotypes of pneumococci with different antimicrobial susceptibility profiles.

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Pneumococcal Research, Murdoch Childrens Research Institute, Parkville, VIC Australia.
Victorian Infectious Disease Reference Laboratory at the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Melbourne, VIC Australia.
Microbiology & Immunology, School of Pathology & Laboratory Medicine, The University of Western Australia, Crawley, WA Australia.
Department of Microbiology, PathWest Laboratory Medicine, Queen Elizabeth II Medical Centre, Nedlands, WA Australia.
Child Health Division, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, NT Australia.
School of Medicine and Menzies Health Institute Queensland, Griffith University, Southport, QLD Australia.
Public Health Bacteriology Laboratory, Centre for Public Health Sciences, Coopers Plains, QLD Australia.
Telethon Kids Institute, The University of Western Australia, Subiaco, WA Australia.



Carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae is considered a precursor to pneumococcal diseases including pneumonia. As part of the Kalgoorlie Otitis Media Research Project, we characterised pneumococci isolated from the nasopharynx of Western Australian Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children.


Between 1999 and 2005, 100 Aboriginal and 180 non-Aboriginal children were followed from birth to two years, with nasopharyngeal aspirates collected at ages 1-3 and 6-8 weeks, then at 4, 6, 12, 18 and 24 months. Introduction of 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (7vPCV) in 2001 enabled evaluation of its impact on carriage in study participants according to vaccines doses received. Pneumococcal serotyping was performed by Quellung and antimicrobial susceptibility by disk diffusion and Etest®. Molecular epidemiology of pneumococcal isolates was investigated by pulse-field gel electrophoresis and multilocus sequence typing.


Overall, the prevalence of 7vPCV serotypes was similar for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children (19 % vs. 16 %), but the prevalence of non-vaccine serotypes was higher in Aboriginal children (22 % vs. 7 %). A multi-resistant 6B clone (ST90) was found only in non-Aboriginal children. Aboriginal children who received three doses of 7vPCV had lower odds of carrying 7vPCV serotypes (odds ratio [OR] 0.19, 95 % CI 0.08-0.44) and higher odds of carrying non-vaccine serotypes (OR 2.37, 95 % CI 1.13-4.99) than unvaccinated Aboriginal children; this finding was not observed in non-Aboriginal children.


This unique study shows important differences in pneumococcal serotypes, genotypes, and antimicrobial susceptibility between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal children living in the same geographic area before widespread 7vPCV use, and highlights the need for ongoing post-vaccination surveillance in outback Australia.


Aboriginal; Carriage; Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; Serotypes; Streptococcus pneumoniae

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