A prospective cohort study of preschool healthy children (3-6 years old) from two distinct socio-economic settings in the Brussels area, Belgium, was conducted during the years 2006-2008. The objectives were to evaluate nasopharyngeal colonization by Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Moraxella catarrhalis and Haemophilus influenzae at the time of PCV7 vaccine introduction and to assess the socio-economic level impact on flora composition and antibiotic resistance. Three hundred and thirty-three children were included and a total of 830 nasopharyngeal samples were collected together with epidemiological data. Pneumococcal serotypes and antibiotic resistance profiles were determined. Risk factors for carriage and bacterial associations were analysed by multivariate logistic regression. Carriage rates were high for all pathogens. Fifty per cent of the children were colonized at least once with S. aureus, 69% with S. pneumoniae, 67% with M. catarrhalis and 83% with H. influenzae. PCV7 uptake was higher among children from a higher socio-economic setting and S. pneumoniae serotypes varied accordingly. Children from lower socio-economic schools were more likely to carry M. catarrhalis, S. aureus and antibiotic-resistant S. pneumoniae, including a high proportion of non-typeable pneumococcal strains. Positive associations between S. pneumoniae and H. Influenza, between H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis and between H. influenzae and S. aureus were detected. Our study indicates that nasopharynx flora composition is influenced not only by age but also by socio-economic settings. A child's nasopharynx might represent a unique dynamic environment modulated by intricate interactions between bacterial species, host immune system and PCV7 immunization.
2010 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection; 2010 European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.