The results of enhanced national surveillance of pneumococcal disease in children < 15 y of age in England and Wales are reported for the period 1996-1998. Of the 1985 cases of laboratory-confirmed invasive disease (annual incidence 6.6 per 100,000 overall and 39.7 per 100,000 in infants < 1 y of age), 485 (24%) were meningitis (annual incidence of 1.6 per 100,000 overall and 15.7 per 100,000 in infants <1 y of age). Fifty-nine deaths in children with invasive disease were identified-3% of the total reports. Thirty-one different serogroups/types were identified, with organisms in the 7-valent conjugate vaccine responsible for 69% of the infections in children < 5 y of age: this rose to 77% and 82%, respectively, for the 9-and 11-valent vaccines. Resistance to penicillin varied from 2.3% to 6.2% in different years, but erythromycin resistance remained constant at 17%. The vast majority of resistant isolates were in vaccine serotype/groups. Computerized hospital admission records for all children < 15 y of age with a discharge diagnosis code indicating probable pneumococcal disease were also analysed for 1997. The annual incidence for cases with a code specifically mentioning S. pneumoniae was 9.9 per 100,000 compared with 71.2 per 100,000 for lobar pneumonia; the mean duration of stay for both was < 1 wk. The incidence of admission for pneumococcal meningitis (1.9 overall and 19.6 for infants < 1 y of age) was similar to that derived from laboratory reports and resulted in an average duration of stay of 2 wk.
Conclusion: This surveillance has confirmed the substantial burden of morbidity attributable to pneumococcal disease in British children and the potential public health benefits that could be achieved by the use of pneumococcal conjugate vaccines.