Nasopharyngeal Bacterial Interactions in Children

Emerg Infect Dis. 2012 Nov;18(11):1738-45. doi: 10.3201/eid1811.111904.


Antimicrobial treatments and vaccines can alter bacterial interactions in the nasopharynx, thereby altering disease processes. To better understand these interactions, we examined colonization rates of 3 respiratory bacterial pathogens among 320 children when healthy and at onset of acute otitis media (AOM). Bacterial interactions were analyzed with a repeated measures logistic regression model. Among healthy children, Streptococcus pneumoniae and Moraxella catarrhalis were synergistically (positively) associated. Colonization with S. pneumoniae when healthy, but not at onset of AOM, was competitively (negatively) associated with Staphylococcus aureus. Among children with AOM, competitive associations were found between Haemophilus influenzae and S. pneumoniae and between H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis; rates of colonization with H. influenzae were higher. Bacterial interactions result in differing pathogen prevalence during periods of health and at onset of AOM. H. influenzae might become a more common cause of AOM among children who receive pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Infections / epidemiology
  • Bacterial Infections / microbiology*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • Host-Pathogen Interactions*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Moraxella catarrhalis
  • Nasopharynx / microbiology*
  • New York / epidemiology
  • Otitis Media / epidemiology
  • Otitis Media / microbiology
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae