Background: This study evaluated the impact of age and pneumococcal vaccination on the density of pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage.
Methods: A cluster-randomized trial was conducted in rural Gambia. In 11 villages (the vaccine group), all residents received 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7), while in another 10 villages (the control group), only children <30 months old or born during the study period received PCV-7. Cross-sectional surveys (CSSs) were conducted to collect nasopharyngeal swabs before vaccination (baseline CSS) and 4, 12, and 22 months after vaccination. Pneumococcal density was defined using a semiquantitative classification (range, 1-4) among colonized individuals. An age-trend analysis of density was conducted using data from the baseline CSS. Mean pneumococcal density was compared in CSSs conducted before and after vaccination.
Results: Mean bacterial density among colonized individuals in the baseline CSS was 2.57 for vaccine-type (VT) and non-vaccine-type (NVT) pneumococci; it decreased with age (P < .001 for VT and NVT). There was a decrease in the density of VT carriage following vaccination in individuals older than 5 years (from 2.44 to 1.88; P = .001) and in younger individuals (from 2.57 to 2.11; P = .070) in the vaccinated villages. Similar decreases in density were observed with NVT within vaccinated and control villages. No significant differences were found between vaccinated and control villages in the postvaccination comparisons for either VT or NVT.
Conclusions: A high density of carriage among young subjects might partly explain why children are more efficient than adults in pneumococcal transmission. PCV-7 vaccination lowered the density of VT and of NVT pneumococcal carriage in the before-after vaccination analysis.
Clinical trials registration: ISRCTN51695599.