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1.  Streptococcus pneumoniae Isolates Expressing a Capsule with Epitopes of Both Serotypes 6A and 6B▿  
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2010;17(11):1820-1822.
Four Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates expressing both 6A and 6B capsular serotypes were detected by a multiplex immunoassay. The sequence of WciP, a GT2-family glycosyltransferase, indicates that point mutation has compromised linkage specificity, allowing two alternative oligosaccharides to be synthesized. This finding highlights that mutation as well as recombination can mediate serotype change.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00335-10
PMCID: PMC2976087  PMID: 20876824
2.  Effect of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccination on Serotype-Specific Carriage and Invasive Disease in England: A Cross-Sectional Study 
PLoS Medicine  2011;8(4):e1001017.
A cross sectional study by Stefan Flasche and coworkers document the serotype replacement of Streptococcus pneumoniae that has occurred in England since the introduction of PCV7 vaccination.
Background
We investigated the effect of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) programme in England on serotype-specific carriage and invasive disease to help understand its role in serotype replacement and predict the impact of higher valency vaccines.
Methods and Findings
Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from children <5 y old and family members (n = 400) 2 y after introduction of PCV7 into routine immunization programs. Proportions carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae and serotype distribution among carried isolates were compared with a similar population prior to PCV7 introduction. Serotype-specific case∶carrier ratios (CCRs) were estimated using national data on invasive disease. In vaccinated children and their contacts vaccine-type (VT) carriage decreased, but was offset by an increase in non-VT carriage, with no significant overall change in carriage prevalence, odds ratio 1.06 (95% confidence interval 0.76–1.49). The lower CCRs of the replacing serotypes resulted in a net reduction in invasive disease in children. The additional serotypes covered by higher valency vaccines had low carriage but high disease prevalence. Serotype 11C emerged as predominant in carriage but caused no invasive disease whereas 8, 12F, and 22F emerged in disease but had very low carriage prevalence.
Conclusion
Because the additional serotypes included in PCV10/13 have high CCRs but low carriage prevalence, vaccinating against them is likely to significantly reduce invasive disease with less risk of serotype replacement. However, a few serotypes with high CCRs could mitigate the benefits of higher valency vaccines. Assessment of the effect of PCV on carriage as well as invasive disease should be part of enhanced surveillance activities for PCVs.
Please see later in the article for the Editors' Summary
Editors' Summary
Background
Pneumococcal diseases—major causes of illness and death in children and adults worldwide—are caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae, a bacterium that often colonizes the nasopharynx (the area of the throat behind the nose). Carriage of S. pneumoniae bacteria does not necessarily cause disease. However, these bacteria can cause local, noninvasive diseases such as ear infections and sinusitis and, more rarely, they can spread into the lungs, the bloodstream, or the covering of the brain, where they cause pneumonia, septicemia, and meningitis, respectively. Although these invasive pneumococcal diseases (IPDs) can be successfully treated if administered early, they can be fatal. Consequently, it is better to protect people against IPDs through vaccination than risk infection. Vaccination primes the immune system to recognize and attack disease-causing organisms (pathogens) rapidly and effectively by exposing it to weakened or dead pathogens or to pathogen molecules (antigens) that it recognizes as foreign.
Why Was This Study Done?
There are more than 90 S. pneumoniae variants or “serotypes” characterized by different polysaccharide (complex sugar) coats, which trigger the immune response against S. pneumoniae and determine each serotype's propensity to cause IPD. The pneumococcal conjugate vaccine PCV7 contains polysaccharides (linked to a protein carrier) from the seven serotypes mainly responsible for IPD in the US in 2000 when routine childhood PCV7 vaccination was introduced in that country. PCV7 prevents both IPD caused by the serotypes it contains and carriage of these serotypes, which means that, after vaccination, previously uncommon, nonvaccine serotypes can colonize the nasopharynx. If these serotypes have a high invasiveness potential, then “serotype replacement” could reduce the benefits of vaccination. In this cross-sectional study (a study that investigates the relationship between a disease and an intervention in a population at one time point), the researchers investigate the effect of the UK PCV7 vaccination program (which began in 2006) on serotype-specific carriage and IPD in England to understand the role of PCV7 in serotype replacement and to predict the likely impact of vaccines containing additional serotypes (higher valency vaccines).
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers examined nasopharyngeal swabs taken from PCV7-vaccinated children and their families for S. pneumoniae, determined the serotype of any bacteria they found, and compared the proportion of people carrying S. pneumoniae (carrier prevalence) and the distribution of serotypes in this study population and in a similar population that was studied in 2000/2001, before the PCV vaccination program began. Overall, there was no statistically significant change in carrier prevalence, but carriage of vaccine serotypes decreased in vaccinated children and their contacts whereas carriage of nonvaccine serotypes increased. The serotype-specific case-to-carrier ratios (CCRs; a measure of serotype invasiveness that was estimated using national IPD data) of the replacing serotypes were generally lower than those of the original serotypes, which resulted in a net reduction in IPD in children. Moreover, before PCV7 vaccination began, PCV7-included serotypes were responsible for similar proportions of pneumococcal carriage and disease; afterwards, the additional serotypes present in the higher valency vaccines PVC10 and PVC13 were responsible for a higher proportion of disease than carriage. Finally, three serotypes not present in the higher valency vaccines with outstandingly high CCRs (high invasiveness potential) are identified.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings document the serotype replacement of S. pneumoniae that has occurred in England since the introduction of PCV7 vaccination and highlight the importance of assessing the effects of pneumococcal vaccines on carriage as well as on IPDs. Because the additional serotypes included in PCV10 and PCV13 have high CCRs but low carriage prevalence and because most of the potential replacement serotypes have low CCRs, these findings suggest that the introduction of higher valency vaccines should further reduce the occurrence of invasive disease with limited risk of additional serotype replacement. However, the emergence of a few serotypes that have high CCRs but are not included in PCV10 and PCV13 might mitigate the benefits of higher valency vaccines. In other words, although the recent introduction of PCV13 into UK vaccination schedules is likely to have an incremental benefit on the reduction of IPD compared to PCV7, this benefit might be offset by increases in the carriage of some high CCR serotypes. These serotypes should be considered for inclusion in future vaccines.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1001017.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention provides information for patients and health professionals on all aspects of pneumococcal disease and pneumococcal vaccination
The US National Foundation for Infectious Diseases has a fact sheet on pneumococcal diseases
The UK Health Protection Agency provides information on pneumococcal disease and on pneumococcal vaccines
The World Health Organization also provides information on pneumococcal vaccines
MedlinePlus has links to further information about pneumococcal infections (in English and Spanish)
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1001017
PMCID: PMC3071372  PMID: 21483718
3.  Molecular Typing of Pneumococci for Investigation of Linked Cases of Invasive Pneumococcal Disease ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(5):1926-1928.
In winter 2007-2008, an outbreak of pediatric pneumonia caused by serotype 5 pneumococci was identified in a northeast London suburb. Variable number of tandem repeat analyses clustered these pneumococci from the other serotype 5 pneumococci in the United Kingdom, highlighting the importance of this discriminative typing method in supporting epidemiological investigations.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02054-09
PMCID: PMC2863872  PMID: 20164267
4.  Diagnosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae Infections in Adults with Bacteremia and Community-Acquired Pneumonia: Clinical Comparison of Pneumococcal PCR and Urinary Antigen Detection▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(4):1046-1049.
The diagnosis of severe Streptococcus pneumoniae infection relies heavily on insensitive culture techniques. To improve the usefulness of PCR assays, we developed a dual-PCR protocol (targeted at pneumolysin and autolysin) for EDTA blood samples. This was compared to the Binax NOW S. pneumoniae urine antigen test in patients with bacteremic pneumococcal infections. Patients with nonbacteremic community-acquired pneumonia also were tested by these methods to determine what proportion could be confirmed as pneumococcal infections. A direct comparison was made in a group of patients who each had both tests performed. The Binax NOW S. pneumoniae urine antigen test was positive in 51 of 58 bacteremic pneumococcal cases (sensitivity, 88%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 77 to 95%), whereas the dual PCR was positive in 31 cases (sensitivity, 53.5%; 95% CI, 40 to 67%; P < 0.0001), and all of these had detectable urinary antigens. Both tests gave positive results in 2 of 51 control patients (referred to as other-organism septicemia), giving a specificity of 96% (95% CI, 86.5 to 99.5%). In 77 patients with nonbacteremic community-acquired pneumonia, urinary antigen was detected significantly more often (in 21 patients [27%]) than a positive result by the dual-PCR protocol (6 [8%]) (P = 0.002). The development of a dual-PCR protocol enhanced the sensitivity compared to that of the individual assays, but it is still significantly less sensitive than the Binax NOW urine antigen test, as well as being more time-consuming and expensive. Urinary antigen detection is the nonculture diagnostic method of choice for patients with possible severe pneumococcal infection.
doi:10.1128/JCM.01480-08
PMCID: PMC2668348  PMID: 19225103
5.  Multilocus Sequence Typing Directly on DNA from Clinical Samples and a Cultured Isolate To Investigate Linked Fatal Pneumococcal Disease in Residents of a Shelter for Homeless Men 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2005;43(4):2004-2008.
Two apparently linked fatal cases of pneumococcal meningitis were investigated. Pneumolysin PCR performed on blood and cerebrospinal fluid was positive in a culture-negative case. A second case yielded Streptococcus pneumoniae from blood culture. Multilocus sequence typing performed on DNA extracted from case 1 (specimens) and case 2 (isolate) revealed identical sequence types (ST53) substantiating the link between them.
doi:10.1128/JCM.43.4.2004-2008.2005
PMCID: PMC1081336  PMID: 15815045

Results 1-5 (5)