Possible prevalence and transmission of acute respiratory tract infections caused by Streptococcus pneumoniae and Haemophilus influenzae among the internally displaced persons in tsunami disaster evacuation camps of Sri Lanka

Intern Med. 2007;46(17):1395-402. doi: 10.2169/internalmedicine.46.0149. Epub 2007 Sep 3.


Objective: The objective of this prospective study was to investigate the status of acute respiratory tract infections caused by Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae in tsunami disaster evacuation camps.

Methods: Nasopharyngeal swabs (NP) of 324 internally displaced persons (IDP) in 3 different tsunami disaster evacuation camps of Sri Lanka were collected between March 18th and 20th, 2005, and analyzed for MIC, beta-lactamase production, serotypes, PCR and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE).

Results: Many IDP had respiratory symptoms and the prevalence of cough and/or sputum was 84%, 70.5% and 64.7% in the three camps. Twenty-one H. influenzae from 20 IDP and 25 S. pneumoniae from 22 IDP were isolated from the NP. All H. influenzae isolates were nontypeable, and 5 were beta-lactamase producing. Seventeen pneumococci were susceptible, 5 showed intermediate resistance and 3 were fully resistant to penicillin G. Molecular analysis showed the 21 H. influenzae strains had 13 PFGE patterns and 25 pneumococci had 16 PFGE patterns. All 4 different PFGE patterns of H. influenzae strains were detected in a few IDP in camps 1 and 3, and 5 different PFGE patterns of serotype 3, 22A, 9A, 10A and 11A pneumococci were detected in a few IDP in camps 1 and 3.

Conclusion: Our data indicate acute respiratory tract infections caused by various types of H. influenzae and S. pneumoniae appear to have been prevalent, some of which were potentially transmitted from person to person in tsunami disaster evacuation camps.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acute Disease
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Disasters / statistics & numerical data*
  • Disease Transmission, Infectious
  • Female
  • Haemophilus Infections / epidemiology*
  • Haemophilus Infections / microbiology
  • Haemophilus Infections / transmission
  • Haemophilus influenzae / isolation & purification*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pneumococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Pneumococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Pneumococcal Infections / transmission
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Refugees / statistics & numerical data*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / epidemiology*
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / microbiology
  • Respiratory Tract Infections / transmission
  • Sri Lanka / epidemiology