BACKGROUND: Data on Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage in adults with co-morbidities are limited. In this study we estimated the pneumococcal carriage among adults with co-morbidities and evaluated socio-demographic and clinical risk factors. The potential coverage of the current pneumococcal vaccines recommended for adults (PCV13 and PPV23) was also investigated.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study on S. pneumoniae carriage among unvaccinated adults ≥50 years with co-morbidities, presenting with or without acute respiratory symptoms at general practitioners in Rome, Italy, between October 2015 and July 2016 was conducted. Pneumococcal carriage was investigated by both cultural and molecular methods. Socio-demographic variables and co-morbidities were evaluated by logistic models as possible risk factors for pneumococcal carriage.
RESULTS: Out of 248 patients (median age: 73 yrs; IQR: 65-79), 12 (4.8%) and 83 (33.5%) individuals were found colonized using cultural or molecular methods, respectively. Potential risk factors for pneumococcal colonization as ascertained by molecular methods were: low level of education (adjusted OR = 3.71, 95% CI: 1.62-9.40), winter months (December-March vs other months, adjusted OR = 2.56, 95% CI: 1.29-5.14), and presence of chronic lung diseases (adjusted OR = 2.18, 95% CI: 1.15-4.16). The combination of serotype-specific multiplex RT-PCR and conventional PCR allowed to identify 22 serotypes/group of serotypes, of which the most common were: 24F/24A/24B, 12F/12A/12B/44/46, 6A/6B, 14, 15B/15C, and 22F/22A. Prevalence of pneumococcal carriage due to PCV13 serotypes and non-PCV13 serotypes was 23.6% and 67.3%, respectively. Prevalence of colonization due to PPV23 serotypes was estimated to be 54.6%.
CONCLUSIONS: A high prevalence of S. pneumoniae carriage was observed among adults with co-morbidities, especially among individuals affected by chronic lung diseases. These results support vaccine strategies based on the sequential administration of PCV13 and PPV23 to control potentially invasive pneumococcal strains in adults, especially in subjects with co-morbidities.