Oropharyngeal and nasal carriage by healthy children

Susanna Esposito, Leonardo Terranova, Alberto Zampiero, Valentina Ierardi, Valentina Ierardi, Claudio Pelucchi, Nicola Principi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: As healthy children are the main reservoir of respiratory pathogens and the main cause of bacterial diffusion in the community, it could be interesting to investigate the type of screening that should be used during the early years of life in order to obtain a more precise estimate of circulation. The aim of this study was to evaluate oropharyngeal and nasal carriage in otherwise healthy children and adolescents aged 6-17 years. Methods: The oropharyngeal and nasal samples were collected in December 2013 from 497 healthy students attending five randomly selected schools in Milan, Italy, using an ESwab kit, and was identified using the RIDA®GENE methicillin-resistant (MRSA) system. Results: Two hundred and sixty-four subjects (53.1%) were identified as carriers: 129 (25.9%) oropharyngeal carriers and 195 (39.2%) nasal carriers, of whom 60 (12.1%) were both oropharyngeal and nasal carriers. Oropharyngeal carriage increased with age (p <0.001), whereas nasal carriage decreased. There was little or no agreement between oropharyngeal and nasal carriage in any of the age groups. MRSA was identified in only three cases (0.6%), always in nasal samples. There were no differences between the carriers and non-carriers in terms of the distribution of age, gender, ethnicity, the number of siblings in the household, exposure to passive smoking, previous clinical history, allergic sensitisation, or previous influenza, pneumococcal and meningococcal vaccinations. The frequency of male children was higher among the subjects with positive nasal and oropharyngeal swabs (66.7%) than among those with positive oropharyngeal swabs alone (46.4%; p = 0.02). Conclusions: The oropharyngeal carriage of mainly methicillin-sensitive is frequent in otherwise healthy children, including a relatively high proportion of those without nasal colonisation. These findings highlight the importance of adding throat to nasal screening when monitoring the circulation of in the community.

Original languageEnglish
Article number723
JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 31 2014


  • Methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus
  • Methicillin-sensitive staphylococcus aureus
  • MRSA
  • MSSA
  • Staphylococcus aureus

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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