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1.  Clinical Epidemiology of Bocavirus, Rhinovirus, Two Polyomaviruses and Four Coronaviruses in HIV-Infected and HIV-Uninfected South African Children 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(2):e86448.
Advances in molecular diagnostics have implicated newly-discovered respiratory viruses in the pathogenesis of pneumonia. We aimed to determine the prevalence and clinical characteristics of human bocavirus (hBoV), human rhinovirus (hRV), polyomavirus-WU (WUPyV) and –KI (KIPyV) and human coronaviruses (CoV)-OC43, -NL63, -HKU1 and -229E among children hospitalized with lower respiratory tract infections (LRTI).
Multiplex real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was undertaken on archived nasopharyngeal aspirates from HIV-infected and –uninfected children (<2 years age) hospitalized for LRTI, who had been previously investigated for respiratory syncytial virus, human metapneumovirus, parainfluenza I–III, adenovirus and influenza A/B.
At least one of these viruses were identified in 274 (53.0%) of 517 and in 509 (54.0%) of 943 LRTI-episodes in HIV-infected and -uninfected children, respectively. Human rhinovirus was the most prevalent in HIV-infected (31.7%) and –uninfected children (32.0%), followed by CoV-OC43 (12.2%) and hBoV (9.5%) in HIV-infected; and by hBoV (13.3%) and WUPyV (11.9%) in HIV-uninfected children. Polyomavirus-KI (8.9% vs. 4.8%; p = 0.002) and CoV-OC43 (12.2% vs. 3.6%; p<0.001) were more prevalent in HIV-infected than –uninfected children. Combined with previously-tested viruses, respiratory viruses were identified in 60.9% of HIV-infected and 78.3% of HIV-uninfected children. The newly tested viruses were detected at high frequency in association with other respiratory viruses, including previously-investigated viruses (22.8% in HIV-infected and 28.5% in HIV–uninfected children).
We established that combined with previously-investigated viruses, at least one respiratory virus was identified in the majority of HIV-infected and HIV-uninfected children hospitalized for LRTI. The high frequency of viral co-infections illustrates the complexities in attributing causality to specific viruses in the aetiology of LRTI and may indicate a synergetic role of viral co-infections in the pathogenesis of childhood LRTI.
PMCID: PMC3911925  PMID: 24498274
2.  Immunogenicity of Seven-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine Administered at 6, 14 and 40 Weeks of Age in South African Infants 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e72794.
The high cost of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) and local epidemiological factors contributed to evaluating different PCV dosing-schedules. This study evaluated the immunogenicity of seven-valent PCV (PCV7) administered at 6-weeks; 14-weeks and 9-months of age.
250 healthy, HIV-unexposed infants were immunized with PCV7 concurrently with other childhood vaccines. Serotype-specific anti-capsular IgG concentrations were measured one-month following the 1st and 2nd PCV-doses, prior to and two-weeks following the 3rd dose. Opsonophagocytic killing assay (OPA) was measured for three serotypes following the 2nd and 3rd PCV7-doses. Immunogenicity of the current schedule was compared to a historical cohort of infants who received PCV7 at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age.
The proportion of infants with serotype-specific antibody ≥0.35 µg/ml following the 2nd PCV7-dose ranged from 84% for 6B to ≥89% for other serotypes. Robust antibody responses were observed following the 3rd dose. The proportion of children with OPA ≥8 for serotypes 9V, 19F and 23F increased significantly following the 3rd PCV7-dose to 93.6%; 86.0% and 89.7% respectively. The quantitative antibody concentrations following the 2nd PCV7-dose were comparable to that after the 3rd -dose in the 6-10-14 week schedule. Geometric mean concentrations (GMCs) following the 3rd PCV7-dose were higher for all serotypes in this study compared to the historical cohort.
The studied PCV7 dosing schedule induced good immune responses, including higher GMCs following the 3rd-dose at 9-months compared to when given at 14-weeks of age. This may confer longer persistence of antibodies and duration of protection against pneumococcal disease.
PMCID: PMC3755982  PMID: 24015277
3.  Development of the Respiratory Index of Severity in Children (RISC) Score among Young Children with Respiratory Infections in South Africa 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(1):e27793.
Pneumonia is a leading cause of death in children worldwide. A simple clinical score predicting the probability of death in a young child with lower respiratory tract infection (LRTI) could aid clinicians in case management and provide a standardized severity measure during epidemiologic studies.
We analyzed 4,148 LRTI hospitalizations in children <24 months enrolled in a pneumococcal conjugate vaccine trial in South Africa from 1998–2001, to develop the Respiratory Index of Severity in Children (RISC). Using clinical data at admission, a multivariable logistic regression model for mortality was developed and statistically evaluated using bootstrap resampling techniques. Points were assigned to risk factors based on their coefficients in the multivariable model. A child's RISC score is the sum of points for each risk factor present. Separate models were developed for HIV-infected and non-infected children.
Significant risk factors for HIV-infected and non-infected children included low oxygen saturation, chest indrawing, wheezing, and refusal to feed. The models also included age and HIV clinical classification (for HIV-infected children) or weight-for-age (for non-infected children). RISC scores ranged up to 7 points for HIV-infected or 6 points for non-infected children and correlated with probability of death (0–47%, HIV-infected; 0–14%, non-infected). Final models showed good discrimination (area under the ROC curve) and calibration (goodness-of-fit).
The RISC score incorporates a simple set of risk factors that accurately discriminate between young children based on their risk of death from LRTI, and may provide an objective means to quantify severity based on the risk of mortality.
PMCID: PMC3251620  PMID: 22238570
4.  Persistent High Burden of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in South African HIV-Infected Adults in the Era of an Antiretroviral Treatment Program 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27929.
Highly active antiretroviral treatment (HAART) programs have been associated with declines in the burden of invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in industrialized countries. The aim of this study was to evaluate trends in IPD hospitalizations in HIV-infected adults in Soweto, South Africa, associated with up-scaling of the HAART program from 2003 to 2008.
Laboratory-confirmed IPD cases were identified from 2003 through 2008 through an existing surveillance program. The period 2003-04 was designated as the early-HAART era, 2005–06 as the intermediate-HAART era and 2007–08 as the established-HAART era. The incidence of IPD was compared between the early-HAART and established-HAART eras in HIV-infected and–uninfected individuals.
A total of 2,567 IPD cases among individuals older than 18 years were reported from 2003 through 2008. Overall incidence of IPD (per 100,000) did not change during the study period in HIV-infected adults (207.4 cases in the early-HAART and 214.0 cases in the established-HAART era; p = 0.55). IPD incidence, actually increased 1.16-fold (95% CI: 1.01; 1.62) in HIV-infected females between the early-and established-HAART eras (212.1 cases and 246.2 cases, respectively; p = 0.03). The incidence of IPD remained unchanged in HIV-uninfected adults across the three time periods.
Despite a stable prevalence of HIV and the increased roll-out of HAART for treatment of AIDS patients in our setting, the burden of IPD has not decreased among HIV-infected adults. The study indicates a need for ongoing monitoring of disease and HAART program effectiveness to reduce opportunistic infections in African adults with HIV/AIDS, as well as the need to consider alternate strategies including pneumococcal conjugate vaccine immunization for the prevention of IPD in HIV-infected adults.
PMCID: PMC3225377  PMID: 22140487
5.  Serotype Distribution and Invasive Potential of Group B Streptococcus Isolates Causing Disease in Infants and Colonizing Maternal-Newborn Dyads 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e17861.
Serotype-specific polysaccharide based group B streptococcus (GBS) vaccines are being developed. An understanding of the serotype epidemiology associated with maternal colonization and invasive disease in infants is necessary to determine the potential coverage of serotype-specific GBS vaccines.
Colonizing GBS isolates were identified by vaginal swabbing of mothers during active labor and from skin of their newborns post-delivery. Invasive GBS isolates from infants were identified through laboratory-based surveillance. GBS serotyping was done by latex agglutination. Serologically non-typeable isolates were typed by a serotype-specific PCR method. The invasive potential of GBS serotypes associated with sepsis within seven days of birth was evaluated in association to maternal colonizing serotypes.
GBS was identified in 289 (52.4%) newborns born to 551 women with GBS-vaginal colonization and from 113 (5.6%) newborns born to 2,010 mothers in whom GBS was not cultured from vaginal swabs. The serotype distribution among vaginal-colonizing isolates was as follows: III (37.3%), Ia (30.1%), and II (11.3%), V (10.2%), Ib (6.7%) and IV (3.7%). There were no significant differences in serotype distribution between vaginal and newborn colonizing isolates (P = 0.77). Serotype distribution of invasive GBS isolates were significantly different to that of colonizing isolates (P<0.0001). Serotype III was the most common invasive serotype in newborns less than 7 days (57.7%) and in infants 7 to 90 days of age (84.3%; P<0.001). Relative to serotype III, other serotypes showed reduced invasive potential: Ia (0.49; 95%CI 0.31–0.77), II (0.30; 95%CI 0.13–0.67) and V (0.38; 95%CI 0.17–0.83).
In South Africa, an anti-GBS vaccine including serotypes Ia, Ib and III has the potential of preventing 74.1%, 85.4% and 98.2% of GBS associated with maternal vaginal-colonization, invasive disease in neonates less than 7 days and invasive disease in infants between 7–90 days of age, respectively.
PMCID: PMC3061872  PMID: 21445302
6.  Use of Procalcitonin and C-Reactive Protein to Evaluate Vaccine Efficacy against Pneumonia 
PLoS Medicine  2005;2(2):e38.
Pneumonia remains the leading cause of death in young children. The poor specificity of chest radiographs (CXRs) to diagnose pneumococcal pneumonia may underestimate the efficacy of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia.
Methods and Findings
The efficacy of nine-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine among children not infected with HIV (21%; 95% confidence interval, 1%–37%) increased when CXR-confirmed pneumonia was associated with serum C-reactive protein of 120 mg/l (12mg/dl) or more and procalcitonin of 5.0 ng/ml or more (64%; 95% confidence interval, 23%–83%). Similar results were observed in children infected with HIV.
C-reactive protein and procalcitonin improve the specificity of CXR to diagnose pneumococcal pneumonia and may be useful for the future evaluation of the effectiveness of pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in preventing pneumococcal pneumonia.
Adding two blood measurements to the standard X-ray exam might lead to more specific diagnoses for pneumococcal pneumonia and allow more accurate estimate of the efficacy of pneumococcal vaccines
PMCID: PMC549587  PMID: 15736995

Results 1-6 (6)