A study was conducted to determine the prevalence of the 2 newly described types, 6C and 6D, among pneumococcal isolates collected in Hong Kong before availability of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. A total of 154 serogroup 6 isolates obtained from nasopharynx (n = 106), blood (n = 22), respiratory (n = 24), and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (n = 2) during 1995 to 2001 were analyzed by polymerase chain reaction typing. Five nasopharyngeal and 2 sputum isolates were found to belong to 6C and 6D, respectively. The isolates were genetically diverse, but one 6C and two 6D isolates exhibited some clonal relationship. Phylogenetic analysis of the wchA-wciN(β)-wciO nucleotide sequences showed that the Hong Kong 6C/6D isolates had 2 allelic profiles, which were more closely related to 6C/6D isolates from Fijian and Korea than were those from Brazil and the United States. However, all of the wciP gene sequences for both Hong Kong and non-Hong Kong isolates clustered together: 6C isolates with the wciP-9 allele and 6D isolates with the wciP-5 allele. In conclusion, the prevalence of the 2 newly described serotypes was low before the era of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine. Nonetheless, results from the molecular studies indicated that the evolution of the capsular genes have involved complex pathways.
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