Defining the propensity of Streptococcus pneumoniae (SP) serotypes to invade sterile body sites following nasopharyngeal (NP) acquisition has the potential to inform about how much invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD) may occur in a typical population with a given distribution of carriage serotypes. Data from enhanced surveillance for IPD in Massachusetts children ≤7 years in 2003/04, 2006/07 and 2008/09 seasons and surveillance of SP NP carriage during the corresponding respiratory seasons in 16 Massachusetts communities in 2003/04 and 8 of the 16 communities in both 2006/07 and 2008/09 were used to compute a serotype specific "invasive capacity (IC)" by dividing the incidence of IPD due to serotype x by the carriage prevalence of that same serotype in children of the same age. A total of 206 IPD and 806 NP isolates of SP were collected during the study period. An approximate 50-fold variation in the point estimates between the serotypes having the highest (18C, 33F, 7F, 19A, 3 and 22F) and lowest (6C, 23A, 35F, 11A, 35B, 19F, 15A, and 15BC) IC was observed. Point estimates of IC for most of the common serotypes currently colonizing children in Massachusetts were low and likely explain the continued reduction in IPD from the pre-PCV era in the absence of specific protection against these serotypes. Invasive capacity differs among serotypes and as new pneumococcal conjugate vaccines are introduced, ongoing surveillance will be essential to monitor whether serotypes with high invasive capacity emerge (e.g. 33F, 22F) as successful colonizers resulting in increased IPD incidence due to replacement serotypes.
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