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1.  Pneumococcal meningitis and vaccine effects in the era of conjugate vaccination: results of 20 years of nationwide surveillance in Germany 
Long-term complications and a case mortality rate of 7.5% make meningitis caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae a serious clinical threat. In 2006, a general pneumococcal conjugate vaccination (PCV) recommendation was issued for all children under 2 years in Germany. Here, we investigate serotype changes in meningitis cases after this vaccine recommendation.
The German National Reference Center for Streptococci (NRCS) has conducted surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in Germany since 1992. Pneumococcal isolates were serotyped by the Neufeld’s Quellung reaction and antibiotic susceptibility was tested using the broth microdilution method.
Of 22,204 IPD isolates sent to the NRCS from July 1992 to June 2013, 3,086 were meningitis cases. Microbiological and statistical investigations were performed to characterize and quantify all meningitis cases, focusing on changes reflecting implementation of the national PCV recommendation. 1,766 isolates (57.2% of meningitis cases) were from adults (≥16 years) and 1,320 isolates (42.8%) originated from children (<16 years). Overall, the leading serotypes were 14 (9.7%), 7F (7.8%), 3 (6.9%), 19F (5.7%) and 23F (5.0%). Among children, serotypes 14 (16.2%), 7F (8.9%) and 19F (7.1%) were most common, whereas among adults, serotypes 3 (9.6%), 7F (6.9%), 22F (5.0%), 23F (4.9%) and 14 (4.8%) were most prevalent. After the introduction of general PCV7/10/13 vaccination a significant decrease for most vaccine serotypes was observed. Generally, the differences in antibiotic nonsusceptibility between children <16 years and adults ≥16 were low. For macrolides in the pre-PCV7 period, a significantly higher proportion of resistant isolates was found in children (25.1%), compared to the post-vaccination period (9.7%; p<0.0001).
Implementation of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines broadly reduced vaccine-type meningitis cases. Changes in serotype prevalence must be continuously monitored to observe future trends concerning pneumococcal meningitis.
PMCID: PMC4335684
Streptococcus pneumoniae; Meningitis; Serotypes; Vaccine coverage; Antibiotic susceptibility; Age
2.  Factors That Cause Trimethoprim Resistance in Streptococcus pyogenes 
The use of trimethoprim in treatment of Streptococcus pyogenes infections has long been discouraged because it has been widely believed that this pathogen is resistant to this antibiotic. To gain more insight into the extent and molecular basis of trimethoprim resistance in S. pyogenes, we tested isolates from India and Germany and sought the factors that conferred the resistance. Resistant isolates were identified in tests for trimethoprim or trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole (SXT) susceptibility. Resistant isolates were screened for the known horizontally transferable trimethoprim-insensitive dihydrofolate reductase (dfr) genes dfrG, dfrF, dfrA, dfrD, and dfrK. The nucleotide sequence of the intrinsic dfr gene was determined for resistant isolates lacking the horizontally transferable genes. Based on tentative criteria, 69 out of 268 isolates (25.7%) from India were resistant to trimethoprim. Occurring in 42 of the 69 resistant isolates (60.9%), dfrF appeared more frequently than dfrG (23 isolates; 33.3%) in India. The dfrF gene was also present in a collection of SXT-resistant isolates from Germany, in which it was the only detected trimethoprim resistance factor. The dfrF gene caused resistance in 4 out of 5 trimethoprim-resistant isolates from the German collection. An amino acid substitution in the intrinsic dihydrofolate reductase known from trimethoprim-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae conferred resistance to S. pyogenes isolates of emm type 102.2, which lacked other aforementioned dfr genes. Trimethoprim may be more useful in treatment of S. pyogenes infections than previously thought. However, the factors described herein may lead to the rapid development and spread of resistance of S. pyogenes to this antibiotic agent.
PMCID: PMC4023743  PMID: 24492367
3.  Variable recombination dynamics during the emergence, transmission and ‘disarming’ of a multidrug-resistant pneumococcal clone 
BMC Biology  2014;12:49.
Pneumococcal β-lactam resistance was first detected in Iceland in the late 1980s, and subsequently peaked at almost 25% of clinical isolates in the mid-1990s largely due to the spread of the internationally-disseminated multidrug-resistant PMEN2 (or Spain6B-2) clone of Streptococcus pneumoniae.
Whole genome sequencing of an international collection of 189 isolates estimated that PMEN2 emerged around the late 1960s, developing resistance through multiple homologous recombinations and the acquisition of a Tn5253-type integrative and conjugative element (ICE). Two distinct clades entered Iceland in the 1980s, one of which had acquired a macrolide resistance cassette and was estimated to have risen sharply in its prevalence by coalescent analysis. Transmission within the island appeared to mainly emanate from Reykjavík and the Southern Peninsular, with evolution of the bacteria effectively clonal, mainly due to a prophage disrupting a gene necessary for genetic transformation in many isolates. A subsequent decline in PMEN2’s prevalence in Iceland coincided with a nationwide campaign that reduced dispensing of antibiotics to children in an attempt to limit its spread. Specific mutations causing inactivation or loss of ICE-borne resistance genes were identified from the genome sequences of isolates that reverted to drug susceptible phenotypes around this time. Phylogenetic analysis revealed some of these occurred on multiple occasions in parallel, suggesting they may have been at least temporarily advantageous. However, alteration of ‘core’ sequences associated with resistance was precluded by the absence of any substantial homologous recombination events.
PMEN2’s clonal evolution was successful over the short-term in a limited geographical region, but its inability to alter major antigens or ‘core’ gene sequences associated with resistance may have prevented persistence over longer timespans.
PMCID: PMC4094930  PMID: 24957517
Bacterial evolution; Antibiotic resistance; Recombination; Mobile genetic elements; Coalescent analysis; Phylogeography
4.  Evidence for Soft Selective Sweeps in the Evolution of Pneumococcal Multidrug Resistance and Vaccine Escape 
Genome Biology and Evolution  2014;6(7):1589-1602.
The multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Taiwan19F-14, or PMEN14, clone was first observed with a 19F serotype, which is targeted by the heptavalent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine (PCV7). However, “vaccine escape” PMEN14 isolates with a 19A serotype became an increasingly important cause of disease post-PCV7. Whole genome sequencing was used to characterize the recent evolution of 173 pneumococci of, or related to, PMEN14. This suggested that PMEN14 is a single lineage that originated in the late 1980s in parallel with the acquisition of multiple resistances by close relatives. One of the four detected serotype switches to 19A generated representatives of the sequence type (ST) 320 isolates that have been highly successful post-PCV7. A second produced an ST236 19A genotype with reduced resistance to β-lactams owing to alteration of pbp1a and pbp2x sequences through the same recombination that caused the change in serotype. A third, which generated a mosaic capsule biosynthesis locus, resulted in serotype 19A ST271 isolates. The rapid diversification through homologous recombination seen in the global collection was similarly observed in the absence of vaccination in a set of isolates from the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, a collection that also allowed variation to be observed within carriage through longitudinal sampling. This suggests that some pneumococcal genotypes generate a pool of standing variation that is sufficiently extensive to result in “soft” selective sweeps: The emergence of multiple mutants in parallel upon a change in selection pressure, such as vaccine introduction. The subsequent competition between these mutants makes this phenomenon difficult to detect without deep sampling of individual lineages.
PMCID: PMC4122920  PMID: 24916661
bacterial evolution; recombination; vaccine escape; antibiotic resistance; selective sweeps; phylogenomics
5.  Severe Soft Tissue Infection Caused by a Non-Beta-Hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes Strain Harboring a Premature Stop Mutation in the sagC Gene 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2013;51(6):1962-1965.
We recovered a non-beta-hemolytic Streptococcus pyogenes strain from a severe soft tissue infection. In this isolate, we detected a premature stop codon within the sagC gene of the streptolysin S (SLS) biosynthetic operon. Reintroduction of full-length sagC gene on a plasmid vector restored the beta-hemolytic phenotype to our clinical isolate, indicating that the point mutation in sagC accounted for loss of hemolytic activity. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report to demonstrate that a severe soft tissue infection can be caused by a non-beta-hemolytic S. pyogenes strain lacking a functional SagC.
PMCID: PMC3716101  PMID: 23515542
7.  Seven-Year Surveillance of emm Types of Pediatric Group A Streptococcal Pharyngitis Isolates in Western Greece 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(8):e71558.
An experimental 26-valent M protein Group A streptococcal (GAS) vaccine has entered clinical studies. Pharyngeal GAS emm type surveillances in different areas and time-periods enhance the understanding of the epidemiology of GAS pharyngitis. Moreover, these surveillances, combined with the data on GAS invasive disease, can play a significant role in the formulation of multivalent type-specific vaccines.
During a 7-year period (1999–2005), 2408 GAS isolates were recovered from consecutive children with pharyngitis in Western Greece. The overall macrolide resistance rate was 22.8%. Along the study period we noted a tendency towards significantly decreased rates of resistance, with the lowest rates occurring in 2002 (15.3%), 2003 (15%) and 2004 (16.7%). A random sample of isolates from each year, 338 (61.7%) of the 548 macrolide-resistant and 205 (11%) of the macrolide-susceptible, underwent molecular analysis, including emm typing.
The 543 typed isolates had 28 different emm types. A statistically significant association was found between macrolide resistance and emm4, emm22 and emm77, whereas emm1, emm3, emm6, emm12, emm87 and emm89 were associated with macrolide susceptibility. A significant yearly fluctuation was observed in emm4, emm28 and emm77. The most common macrolide-resistant GAS were emm77 isolates harboring erm(A), either alone or in combination with mef(A), emm4 carrying mef(A), emm28 possessing erm(B), emm75 carrying mef(A), emm12 harboring mef(A) and emm22 carrying erm(A). We estimated that 82.8% of the isolates belonged to emm types included in the novel 26-valent M protein vaccine. The vaccine coverage rate was determined mainly by the increased frequency of nonvaccine emm4 isolates.
A limited number of emm types dominated among macrolide-susceptible and macrolide-resistant GAS isolates. We observed seasonal fluctuations, which were significant for emm4, emm28 and emm77. This type of data can serve as baseline information if the novel 26-valent M protein GAS vaccine is introduced into practice.
PMCID: PMC3747210  PMID: 23977078
8.  Rapid pneumococcal evolution in response to clinical interventions 
Science (New York, N.Y.)  2011;331(6016):430-434.
Epidemiological studies of the naturally transformable bacterial pathogen Streptococcus pneumoniae have previously been confounded by high rates of recombination. Sequencing 240 isolates of the PMEN1 (Spain23F-1) multidrug-resistant lineage enabled base substitutions to be distinguished from polymorphisms arising through horizontal sequence transfer. Over 700 recombinations were detected, with genes encoding major antigens frequently affected. Among these were ten capsule switching events, one of which accompanied a population shift as vaccine-escape serotype 19A isolates emerged in the USA following the introduction of the conjugate polysaccharide vaccine. The evolution of resistance to fluoroquinolones, rifampicin and macrolides was observed to occur on multiple occasions. This study details how genomic plasticity within lineages of recombinogenic bacteria can permit adaptation to clinical interventions over remarkably short timescales.
PMCID: PMC3648787  PMID: 21273480
9.  Epidemiology of Streptococcus pneumoniae Serogroup 6 Isolates from IPD in Children and Adults in Germany 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60848.
This study presents serogroup 6 isolates from invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) before and after the recommendation for childhood pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in Germany (July 2006). A total of 19,299 (children: 3508, adults: 15,791) isolates were serotyped. Serogroup 6 isolates accounted for 9.5% (children) and 6.7% (adults), respectively. 548 isolates had serotype 6A, 558 had serotype 6B, 285 had serotype 6C, and 4 had serotype 6D. Among children, serotype 6B was most prevalent (7.5% of isolates) before vaccination, followed by 6A and 6C. After the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7), the prevalence of serotype 6B significantly decreased (p = 0.040), a pattern which continued in the higher-valent PCV period (PCV10, PCV13). Serotype 6A prevalence showed a slight increase directly after the start of PCV7 vaccination, followed by a decrease which continued throughout the PCV10/13 period. Serotype 6C prevalence remained low. Serotype 6D was not found among IPD isolates from children. Among adults, prevalence of both 6A and 6B decreased, with 6B reaching statistical significance (p = 0.045) and 6A showing a small increase in 2011–2012. Serotype 6C prevalence was 1.5% or lower before vaccination, but increased post-vaccination to 3.6% in 2011/12 (p = 0.031). Four serotype 6D isolates were found post-PCV7 childhood vaccination, and two post-PCV10/13. Antibiotic resistance was found mainly in serotype 6B; serotype 6A showed lower resistance rates. Serotype 6C isolates only showed resistance among adults; serotype 6D isolates showed no resistance. Multilocus sequence typing showed that sequence type (ST) 1692 was the most prevalent serotype 6C clone. Thirty-two other STs were found among serotype 6C isolates, of which 12 have not been previously reported. The four serotype 6D isolates had ST 948, ST 2185 and two new STs: 8422 and 8442. Two serogroup 6 isolates could not be assigned to a serotype, but had STs common to serogroup 6.
PMCID: PMC3621884  PMID: 23593324
10.  Epidemiology of serotype 19A isolates from invasive pneumococcal disease in German children 
This study presents an analysis of 159 serotype 19A isolates from IPD in children before and after the general recommendation for childhood pneumococcal conjugate vaccination in Germany in July 2006. Vaccination formulations used were PCV7, PCV10 (from April 2009) and PCV13 (from Dec. 2009, replacing PCV7).
Isolates from invasive pneumococcal disease in children were serotyped using the Quellung reaction, tested for antibiotic susceptibility and analysed for their multi locus sequence type.
In an analysis of 3328 isolates from invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) in children that were sent to the German National Reference Center for Streptococci between July 1997 and June 2011, we show that the proportion of 19A isolates ranged between 1.7 and 4.2% in the period 1997 to 2006. After the recommendation for pneumococcal conjugate childhood vaccination, which was issued in July 2006, the proportion of 19A isolates increased significantly to 15.0% in 2010/11. Eight clonal complexes (CC) and groups accounted for 77.2% and 65.3% of all serotype 19A isolates before and after vaccination, respectively. While three CCs and several STs were not detected after vaccine introduction, four CCs and several STs first appeared after vaccination, including three ST320 isolates that could be traced to recent imports from the US, UK and India. The proportion of penicillin-nonsusceptible and of multidrug-resistant 19A isolates moderately increased after vaccine introduction. A significant increase in the use of cephalosporins and azithromycin was noted post-vaccination (p=0.00001 and p=0.0013 respectively).
The prevalence of serotype 19A in Germany has increased significantly between July 2007 and June 2011. Possible reasons for this are the introduction of pneumococcal conjugate vaccination, increased use of cephalosporins and azithromycin, import of multidrug-resistant isolates and increased reporting.
PMCID: PMC3570384  PMID: 23384407
Streptococcus pneumoniae; Serotype 19A; Germany
11.  Pneumococci in the African Meningitis Belt: Meningitis Incidence and Carriage Prevalence in Children and Adults 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52464.
The development of optimal vaccination strategies for pneumococcal conjugate vaccines requires serotype-specific data on disease incidence and carriage prevalence. This information is lacking for the African meningitis belt.
We conducted hospital-based surveillance of acute bacterial meningitis in an urban and rural population of Burkina Faso during 2007–09. Cerebrospinal fluid was evaluated by polymerase chain reaction for species and serotype. In 2008, nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from a representative population sample (1 month to 39 years; N = 519) and additional oropharyngeal swabs from 145 participants. Swabs were evaluated by culture.
Annual pneumococcal meningitis incidence rates were highest among <6-month-old (58/100,000) and 15- to 19-year-old persons (15/100,000). Annual serotype 1 incidence was around 5/100,000 in all age groups. Pneumococcal carriage prevalence in nasopharyngeal swabs was 63% among <5-year-old children and 22% among ≥5-year-old persons, but adding oropharyngeal to nasopharyngeal swabs increased the estimated carriage prevalence by 60%. Serotype 1 showed high propensity for invasive disease, particularly among persons aged ≥5 years.
Serotype 1 causes the majority of cases with a relatively constant age-specific incidence. Pneumococcal carriage is common in all age groups including adults. Vaccination programs in this region may need to include older target age groups for optimal impact on disease burden.
PMCID: PMC3527509  PMID: 23285051
12.  Prevention of pneumococcal diseases in the post-seven valent vaccine era: A European perspective 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2012;12:207.
The burden of invasive pneumococcal disease in young children decreased dramatically following introduction of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7). The epidemiology of S. pneumoniae now reflects infections caused by serotypes not included in PCV7. Recently introduced higher valency pneumococcal vaccines target the residual burden of invasive and non-invasive infections, including those caused by serotypes not included in PCV7. This review is based on presentations made at the European Society of Pediatric Infectious Diseases in June 2011.
Surveillance data show increased circulation of the non-PCV7 vaccine serotypes 1, 3, 6A, 6C, 7 F and 19A in countries with routine vaccination. Preliminary evidence suggests that broadened serotype coverage offered by higher valency vaccines may be having an effect on invasive disease caused by some of those serotypes, including 19A, 7 F and 6C. Aetiology of community acquired pneumonia remains a difficult clinical diagnosis. However, recent reports indicate that pneumococcal vaccination has reduced hospitalisations of children for vaccine serotype pneumonia. Variations in serotype circulation and occurrence of complicated and non-complicated pneumonia caused by non-PCV7 serotypes highlight the potential of higher valency vaccines to decrease the remaining burden. PCVs reduce nasopharyngeal carriage and acute otitis media (AOM) caused by vaccine serotypes. Recent investigations of the interaction between S. pneumoniae and non-typeable H. influenzae suggest that considerable reduction in severe, complicated AOM infections may be achieved by prevention of early pneumococcal carriage and AOM infections. Extension of the vaccine serotype spectrum beyond PCV7 may provide additional benefit in preventing the evolution of AOM. The direct and indirect costs associated with pneumococcal disease are high, thus herd protection and infections caused by non-vaccine serotypes both have strong effects on the cost effectiveness of pneumococcal vaccination. Recent evaluations highlight the public health significance of indirect benefits, prevention of pneumonia and AOM and coverage of non-PCV7 serotypes by higher valency vaccines.
Routine vaccination has greatly reduced the burden of pneumococcal diseases in children. The pneumococcal serotypes present in the 7-valent vaccine have greatly diminished among disease isolates. The prevalence of some non-vaccine serotypes (e.g. 1, 7 F and 19A) has increased. Pneumococcal vaccines with broadened serotype coverage are likely to continue decreasing the burden of invasive disease, and community acquired pneumonia in children. Further reductions in pneumococcal carriage and increased prevention of early AOM infections may prevent the evolution of severe, complicated AOM. Evaluation of the public health benefits of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines should include consideration of non-invasive pneumococcal infections, indirect effects of vaccination and broadened serotype coverage.
PMCID: PMC3462147  PMID: 22954038
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine; Invasive pneumococcal disease; Community-acquired pneumonia; Acute otitis media; Vaccine serotype coverage; Epidemiology-incidence
13.  International Pneumococcal Clones Match or Exceed the Fitness of Other Strains despite the Accumulation of Antibiotic Resistance▿ 
Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy  2011;55(10):4915-4917.
A few international pneumococcal clones dominate the population of antibiotic-resistant pneumococci. Despite the scientific paradigm that a loss in fitness is the price for acquisition of resistance, these clones spread successfully. One hundred fifty-four isolates from adult patients with community-acquired pneumonia (CAP) were analyzed. Thirty percent showed a close relationship to international clones and had fitness equal to or exceeding that of other strains (P = 0.015); these factors may result in the endurance of these strains despite a reduction of antibiotic usage.
PMCID: PMC3186985  PMID: 21825290
14.  Travel-Related Streptococcal Toxic Shock Syndrome Caused by emm Type 78 Streptococcus pyogenes▿ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(8):3094-3095.
Streptococcal toxic shock syndrome is a serious health problem in developed and developing countries. We here report a case of severe protracted disease after a minor skin infection in a young traveler returning from West Malaysia which was caused by an unusual emm-type strain harboring speG and smeZ superantigen genes.
PMCID: PMC3147764  PMID: 21632896
15.  Detection of Large Numbers of Pneumococcal Virulence Genes in Streptococci of the Mitis Group ▿ †  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(8):2762-2769.
Seven streptococcal isolates from the mitis group were analyzed for the presence of pneumococcal gene homologues by comparative genomic hybridization studies with microarrays based on open reading frames from the genomes of Streptococcus pneumoniae TIGR4 and R6. The diversity of pneumolysin (ply) and neuraminidase A (nanA) gene sequences was explored in more detail in a collection of 14 S. pseudopneumoniae and 29 mitis group isolates, respectively. The mitis group isolates used in the microarray experiments included a type strain (NCTC 12261), two S. mitis isolates from the nasopharynxes of children, one S. mitis isolate from a case of infective endocarditis, one S. mitis isolate from a dental abscess, and one S. oralis isolate and one S. pseudopneumoniae isolate from the nasopharynxes of children. The results of the microarray study showed that the 5 S. mitis isolates had homologues to between 67 and 82% of pneumococcal virulence genes, S. oralis hybridized to 83% of pneumococcal virulence genes, and S. pseudopneumoniae hybridized to 92% of identified pneumococcal virulence genes. Comparison of the pneumolysin, mitilysin (mly), and newly identified pseudopneumolysin (pply) gene sequences revealed that mly and pply genes are more closely related to each other than either is to ply. In contrast, the nanA gene sequences in the pneumococcus and streptococci from the mitis group are closely clustered together, sharing 99.4 to 99.7% sequence identity with pneumococcal nanA alleles.
PMCID: PMC2916619  PMID: 20519466
16.  Macrolide susceptibility and serotype specific macrolide resistance of invasive isolates of Streptococcus pneumoniae in Germany from 1992 to 2008 
BMC Microbiology  2010;10:299.
Macrolide resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae has been on a gradual increase in Germany for over a decade. The current study was undertaken against the background of the recent observation of declining macrolide resistance rates especially among German children. Nationwide surveillance of invasive pneumococcal disease has been conducted in Germany since 1992. A population- and laboratory-based approach was used to collect data on invasive pneumococcal disease, and isolates sent to the National Reference Center for Streptococci by diagnostic microbiological laboratories from 1992 to 2008 were included in this study.
From 1992 to 2008, data on macrolide susceptibility were available for 11,807 invasive isolates. 8,834 isolates (74.8%) were from adults (≥ 16 years), and 2,973 isolates (25.2%) from children (< 16 years). The overall nonsusceptibility rate of all isolates was 16.2% (intermediate, 0.2%; resistant, 16.0%). Higher resistance rates were observed among children (intermediate, 0.2%; resistant, 23.8%) than among adults (intermediate, 0.3%; resistant 13.4%). Maximum nonsusceptibility rates during the period under study were observed in 2005 (children: intermediate, 0.3%; resistant, 32.3%; adults: intermediate, 0.0%; resistant, 18.6%), while nonsusceptibility rates in 2008 were considerably lower, especially for children (children: intermediate, 0.0%; resistant, 15.2%; adults: intermediate, 0.1%; resistant, 12.9%). The rate of resistance was higher among the vaccine serotypes (7-valent, 36.6%; 10-valent, 28.2%; 13-valent, 24.3%) than among the non vaccine serotypes (non 7-valent, 6.5%; non 10-valent, 7.4%; non 13-valent, 6.3%). Serotype 14 (69.6% nonsusceptibility) proved to be the most resistant serotype.
There has been a considerable and statistically significant decrease in macrolide nonsusceptibility in Germany since 2005, especially among children.
PMCID: PMC3001718  PMID: 21108778
17.  Association of Serotypes of Streptococcus pneumoniae with Age in Invasive Pneumococcal Disease ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2010;48(4):1291-1296.
A total of 7,764 isolates from patients with invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) were collected from 1992 to June 2006. Data on serotypes were available for 5,022 isolates (64.7% of all invasive isolates). Some 54.0% of the isolates originated from adults ≥16 years of age, and 46.0% were from children <16 years of age. The leading serotypes were 14, 23F, 1, 6B, 7F, 3, and 4. The serotypes significantly more common in children were 14, 6B, 19F, and 18C, while among adults, serotypes 3 and 4 were predominant. Serotype 7F was statistically more prevalent among children <4 months old than among the other age groups. Among children aged ≥4 months and <1 year, serotype 19F occurred statistically more frequently; and among children aged ≥1 year to <5 years, serotypes 14, 6B, and 18C were overrepresented. The serotypes predominantly affecting patients younger than the remaining collective of patients were 14, 6B, 19F, and 18C, while patients with IPD caused by serotypes 3, 4, and 9V were older than the collective, on average.
PMCID: PMC2849605  PMID: 20107087
18.  Serotyping Pneumococcal Meningitis Cases in the African Meningitis Belt by Use of Multiplex PCR with Cerebrospinal Fluid▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;48(2):612-614.
We reformulated a multiplex PCR algorithm for serotyping of pneumococcal meningitis directly on cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Compared to established methods on isolates, CSF-based PCR had at least 80% sensitivity and 100% specificity. In regional meningitis surveillance, CSF-based PCR increased the serotype information yield from 40% of cases (isolate testing) to 90%.
PMCID: PMC2815583  PMID: 20007384
19.  Temporal Variations among Invasive Pneumococcal Disease Serotypes in Children and Adults in Germany (1992–2008) 
Nationwide surveillance of invasive pneumococcal disease has been conducted in Germany since 1992. From 1992 to 2008, a total of 12,137 isolates from invasive pneumococcal disease were collected. Data on serotypes were available for 9,394 invasive isolates. The leading serotypes were serotypes 14 (16.5%), 3 (8.0%), 7F (7.6%), 1 (7.3%), and 23F (6.0%). Variations in serotype distribution over the years are particularly extensive, especially concerning serotype 14 (min 7.4%, max 33.5%) with the highest percentages among the isolates serotyped from around 1997 to 2006. Serotypes 1 and 7F increased over the last decade. No increase was observed concerning serotype 19A. Higher pneumococcal conjugate vaccine coverages were observed among children (7v, 57.3%; 10v, 72.8%; 13v, 83.5%) than among adults (7v, 39.9%; 10v, 55.5%; 13v, 73.5%). The temporal variations in serotype distribution have to be kept in mind when interpreting vaccine coverages reported in epidemiological studies.
PMCID: PMC2910462  PMID: 20671944
20.  Effect of heptavalent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination on invasive pneumococcal disease in preterm born infants 
Evidence for protection of preterm born infants from invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) by 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccination (PCV7) is relatively sparse. Data from randomized trials is based on relatively small numbers of preterm born children.
We report data from active prospective surveillance of IPD in children in Germany. The cohorts of preterm born children in 2000 and 2007 and the respective whole birth cohorts are compared regarding occurrence of IPD.
After introduction of PCV7 we observed a reduction in the rate of IPD in preterm born infants comparing the 2000 and 2007 birth cohort. The rate of IPD among the whole birth cohorts was reduced from 15.0 to 8.5 notifications per 100,000 (P < .001). The impact among the preterm birth cohort was comparable: A reduction in notification rate from 26.1 to 16.7 per 100,000 comparing the 2000 with the 2007 preterm birth cohort (P = .39). Preterm born infants with IPD were either unvaccinated or vaccinated delayed or incomplete.
This adds to evidence that PCV7 also protects preterm born infants effectively from IPD. Preterm born infants should receive pneumococcal vaccination according to their chronological age.
PMCID: PMC2823613  PMID: 20085656
21.  Molecular Characterization of Pneumococcal Isolates from Pets and Laboratory Animals 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(12):e8286.
Between 1986 and 2008 Streptococcus pneumoniae was isolated from 41 pets/zoo animals (guinea pigs (n = 17), cats (n = 12), horses (n = 4), dogs (n = 3), dolphins (n = 2), rat (n = 2), gorilla (n = 1)) treated in medical veterinary laboratories and zoos, and 44 laboratory animals (mastomys (multimammate mice; n = 32), mice (n = 6), rats (n = 4), guinea pigs (n = 2)) during routine health monitoring in an animal facility. S. pneumoniae was isolated from nose, lung and respiratory tract, eye, ear and other sites.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Carriage of the same isolate of S. pneumoniae over a period of up to 22 weeks was shown for four mastomys. Forty-one animals showed disease symptoms. Pneumococcal isolates were characterized by optochin sensitivity, bile solubility, DNA hybridization, pneumolysin PCR, serotyping and multilocus sequence typing. Eighteen of the 32 mastomys isolates (56%) were optochin resistant, all other isolates were optochin susceptible. All mastomys isolates were serotype 14, all guinea pig isolates serotype 19F, all horse isolates serotype 3. Rats had serotypes 14 or 19A, mice 33A or 33F. Dolphins had serotype 23F, the gorilla serotype 14. Cats and dogs had many different serotypes. Four isolates were resistant to macrolides, three isolates also to clindamycin and tetracyclin. Mastomys isolates were sequence type (ST) 15 (serotype 14), an ST/serotype combination commonly found in human isolates. Cats, dogs, pet rats, gorilla and dolphins showed various human ST/serotype combinations. Lab rats and lab mice showed single locus variants (SLV) of human STs, in human ST/serotype combinations. All guinea pig isolates showed the same completely new combination of known alleles. The horse isolates showed an unknown allele combination and three new alleles.
The isolates found in mastomys, mice, rats, cats, dogs, gorilla and dolphins are most likely identical to human pneumococcal isolates. Isolates from guinea pigs and horses appear to be specialized clones for these animals. Our data redraw attention to the fact that pneumococci are not strictly human pathogens. Pet animals that live in close contact to humans, especially children, can be infected by human isolates and also carriage of even resistant isolates is a realistic possibility.
PMCID: PMC2788425  PMID: 20011527
22.  Clinical and Microbiological Characteristics of Severe Streptococcus pyogenes Disease in Europe▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;47(4):1155-1165.
In an attempt to compare the epidemiology of severe Streptococcus pyogenes infection within Europe, prospective data were collected through the Strep-EURO program. Surveillance for severe cases of S. pyogenes infection diagnosed during 2003 and 2004 was undertaken in 11 countries across Europe by using a standardized case definition and questionnaire. Patient data as well as bacterial isolates were collected and characterized by T and M/emm typing, and selected strains were analyzed for the presence of superantigen genes. Data were analyzed to compare the clinical and microbiological patterns of the infections across the participating countries. A total of 4,353 isolates were collected from 5,521 cases with severe S. pyogenes infections who were identified. A wide diversity of M/emm types (n = 104) was found among the S. pyogenes clinical isolates, but the M/emm type distribution varied broadly between participating countries. The 10 most predominant M/emm types were M/emm type 1 (M/emm1), M/emm28, M/emm3, M/emm89, M/emm87, M/emm12, M/emm4, M/emm83, M/emm81, and M/emm5, in descending order. A correlation was found between some specific disease manifestations, the age of the patients, and the emm types. Although streptococcal toxic shock syndrome and necrotizing fasciitis were caused by a large number of types, they were particularly associated with M/emm1 and M/emm3. The emm types included in the 26-valent vaccine under development were generally well represented in the present material; 16 of the vaccine types accounted for 69% of isolates. The Strep-EURO collaborative program has contributed to enhancement of the knowledge of the spread of invasive disease caused by S. pyogenes within Europe and encourages future surveillance by the notification of cases and the characterization of strains, which are important for vaccination strategies and other health care issues.
PMCID: PMC2668334  PMID: 19158266
23.  Polyclonal Population Structure of Streptococcus pneumoniae Isolates in Spain Carrying mef and mef plus erm(B)▿  
The population structure (serotypes, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis [PFGE] types, and multilocus sequencing types) of 45 mef-positive Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates [carrying mef alone (n = 17) or with the erm(B) gene n = 28)] were studied. They were selected from among all erythromycin-resistant isolates (n = 244) obtained from a collection of 712 isolates recovered from different Spanish geographic locations in the prevaccination period from 1999 to 2003. The overall rates of resistance (according to the criteria of the CLSI) among the 45 mef-positive isolates were as follows: penicillin G, 82.2%; cefotaxime, 22.2%; clindamycin, 62.2%; and tetracycline, 68.8% [mainly in isolates carrying erm(B) plus mef(E); P < 0.001]. No levofloxacin or telithromycin resistance was found. Macrolide resistance phenotypes (as determined by the disk diffusion approximation test) were 37.7% for macrolide resistance [with all but one due to mef(E)] and 62.2% for constitutive macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B resistance [cMLSB; with all due to mef(E) plus erm(B)]. Serotypes 14 (22.2%), 6B (17.7%), 19A (13.3%), and 19F (11.1%) were predominant. Twenty-five different DNA patterns (PFGE types) were observed. Our mef-positive isolates were grouped (by eBURST analysis) into four clonal complexes (n = 18) and 19 singleton clones (n = 27). With the exception of clone Spain9V-3, all clonal complexes (clonal complexes 6B, Spain6B-2, and Sweden15A-25) and 73.6% of singleton clones carried both the erm(B) and the mef(E) genes. The international multiresistant clones Spain23F-1 and Poland6B-20 were represented as singleton clones. A high proportion of mef-positive S. pneumoniae isolates presented the erm(B) gene, with all isolates expressing the cMLSB phenotype. A polyclonal population structure was demonstrated within our Spanish mef-positive S. pneumoniae isolates, with few clonal complexes overrepresented within this collection.
PMCID: PMC2415790  PMID: 18362188
24.  Clinical and Epidemiological Aspects of Invasive Streptococcus pyogenes Infections in Denmark during 2003 and 2004▿  
Active surveillance of invasive group A streptococcal (GAS) infections was conducted in Denmark during 2003 and 2004 as a part of the Strep-EURO initiative. The main objective was to improve understanding of the epidemiology of invasive GAS disease in Denmark. During the 2 years, 278 cases were reported, corresponding to a mean annual incidence of 2.6 cases per 100,000 inhabitants. The vast majority of isolates, 253 (91%), were from blood, with the remaining 25 (9%) being from cerebrospinal fluid, joints, or other normally sterile sites. The mean case fatality rate (CFR) was 20%, with the rate being higher in patients more than 70 years of age (36.5%). For streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) and necrotizing fasciitis the CFRs were 53% and 25%, respectively. Out of 16 T types recorded, three predominated: T28 (23%), T1 (22%), and the cluster T3/13/B3264 (14%). Among 29 different emm types, emm28 and emm1 accounted for 51% of strains, followed by emm3 (11%), emm89 (7%), and emm12 (5.5%). Low resistance rates were detected for macrolide-lincosamide-streptogramin B (MLSB) antibiotics (3%) and tetracycline (8%); two isolates exhibited coresistance to tetracycline and macrolides. Of nine pyrogenic exotoxin (superantigen) genes examined, speA and speC were identified in 58% and 40% of the strains, respectively; either of the genes was present in all strains causing STSS. Most strains harbored speG (99%). ssa was present in 14% of the isolates only. In Denmark, as in comparable countries, GAS invasive disease shows a sustained, high endemicity, with involvement of both established and emerging streptococcal emm and T types.
PMCID: PMC2224248  PMID: 17959766
25.  Clonal Spread of mef-Positive Macrolide-Resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Isolates Causing Invasive Disease in Adults in Germany▿  
Isolates (3,845) obtained from German adults with invasive pneumococcal disease between 1992 and 2004 were investigated. Of these, 430 isolates (11.2%) were erythromycin A nonsusceptible. Macrolide resistance genotypes and multilocus sequence types were determined. Among the isolates, 35.6% were erm(B) positive and 63.5% were mef positive. Over the study period, the frequency of resistance rose significantly from 2.2 to 17.0% (P < 0.001). A serotype 14, sequence type 9 clone was the most widespread.
PMCID: PMC1855535  PMID: 17325214

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