In 2012, Ghana introduced PCV13 into its childhood immunization program. To monitor the pneumococcus after PCV13 vaccination, we analyzed serotypes, antibiotic resistance, and virulence genes of pneumococcal carriage isolates among children under five years of age. We obtained nasopharyngeal swabs from 513 children from kindergartens and immunization centers in Cape Coast, Ghana. Pneumococcal serotypes were determined by multiplex-PCR and Quellung reaction. Antibiotic resistance and virulence genes prevalence were determined by disc diffusion and PCR respectively. Overall, carriage prevalence was 29.4% and PCV13 coverage was 38.4%. Over 60% of the isolates were non-PCV13 serotypes and serotype 23B was the most prevalent. One isolate showed full resistance to penicillin, while 35% showed intermediate resistance. Resistance to erythromycin and clindamycin remained low, while susceptibility to ceftriaxone, levofloxacin and vancomycin remained high. Penicillin resistance was associated with PCV13 serotypes. Forty-three (28.5%) strains were multidrug-resistant. Virulence genes pavB, pcpA, psrP, pilus-1, and pilus-2 were detected in 100%, 87%, 62.9%, 11.9%, and 6.6% of the strains, respectively. The pilus islets were associated with PCV13 and multidrug-resistant serotypes. PCV13 vaccination had impacted on pneumococcal carriage with a significant increase in non-PCV13 serotypes and lower penicillin resistance. Including PcpA and PsrP in pneumococcal protein-based vaccines could be beneficial to Ghanaian children.
Keywords: Ghana; PCV13; antibiotic resistance; pneumococcal carriage; serotypes; virulence genes.