Background & objectives: Information related to nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae among healthy children is scanty in India. This prospective study was undertaken to determine the presence of asymptomatic nasopharyngeal colonization, assess serogroups/types (SGT) and drug resistance of S. pneumoniae in children below five years of age.
Methods: A total of 109 male and 81 female children in the age group of three months to five years belonging to different socio-economic classes were enrolled. They were recruited across all age groups from those attending paediatric OPD of a tertiary care and research centre for immunization program. Fifty three isolates identified as pneumococci were tested for their antimicrobial susceptibility pattern by Kirby-Bauer's disc diffusion and E-Test methods. Serotyping was performed by detection of the quelling reaction with specific antiserum.
Result: The pneumococcal carriage rate in the study population was 27.9 per cent. The isolation rate was associated with age being higher (49.2%) in smaller children (3-12 months) and among male (62.2%). The most prevalent SGTs were 19 followed by 10, 14 and 7; 21 per cent of isolates belonging to serotype 10 (n=7) were 11 (n=4) were not covered in any of the conjugate vaccines currently available in Indian market. Resistance to co-trimoxazole, tetracycline, penicillin and erythromycin was observed in 91 per cent (n=48), 36 per cent (n=19), 17 per cent (n=9) and 9 per cent (n=5) isolates, respectively. All the penicillin resistant isolates were found to be intermediately resistant by E-Test. Multidrug resistance was observed in 19 per cent (n=10) isolates.
Interpretation & conclusions: High level of antibiotic resistance was present in S. pneumoniae isolated from healthy children below age five. A pneumococcal conjugate vaccine with the prevailing SGTs would help to reduce the pool of antibiotic resistant pneumococci. Continued surveillance of serotypes and tracking susceptibility pattern of S. pneumoniae will help to introduce appropriate vaccination protocols.