Dynamics of nasopharyngeal bacterial colonisation in HIV-exposed young infants in Tanzania

G. D. Kinabo, A. van der Ven, L. J. Msuya, A. M. Shayo, W. Schimana, A. Ndaro, H. A. G. H. van Asten, W. M. V. Dolmans, A. Warris, and P. W. M. Hermans
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Objectives: To estimate the prevalence of nasopharyngeal bacterial colonisation (NPBC) patterns in young Tanzanian HIV-exposed infants and to analyse the influence of maternal NPBC and of the infant's HIV status on the NPBC pattern.

Methods: Longitudinal cohort study of neonates born to HIV-infected mothers visiting Kilimanjaro Christian Medical Centre, Tanzania, between 2005 and 2009. Demographic and clinical data and nasopharyngeal bacterial cultures were obtained at the age of 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months, and at one time point, a paired mother–infant nasopharyngeal swab was taken.

Results: Four hundred and twenty-two swabs were taken from 338 eligible infants. At 6 weeks of age, colonisation rates were 66% for Staphylococcus aureus, 56% for Streptococcus pneumoniae, 50% for Moraxella catarrhalis and 14% for Haemophilus influenzae. Colonisation with S. aureus diminished over time and was more common in HIV-infected infants. S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae colonisation rose over time and was more prevalent in HIV-uninfected children. Co-colonisation of S. pneumoniae with H. influenzae or M. catarrhalis was mostly noticed in HIV-infected infants. S. pneumoniae and M.catarrhalis colonisation of the mother was a risk factor for colonisation in HIV-uninfected infants, while maternal S. aureus colonisation was a risk factor for colonisation in HIV-infected infants. Among the 104 S. pneumoniae isolates, 19F was most prevalent, and 57 (55%) displayed capsular serotypes represented in the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine.

Conclusions: NPBC was common in Tanzanian HIV-exposed infants. The significant prevalence of pneumococcal vaccine serotypes colonising this paediatric population justifies the use of the 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine to reduce the burden of pneumococcal invasive disease.