Prevalence of pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization and serotypes circulating in Cameroonian children after the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine introduction

John Njuma Libwea, Kirsi Gröndahl-Yli-Hannuksela, Marie Kobela, Maija Toropainen, Outi Nyholm, Paul Koki Ndombo, Sinata Koulla-Shiro, Hanna Nohynek, Pekka J Nuorti, Jaana Vuopio, Arto A Palmu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Streptococcus pneumoniae remains a major contributor to childhood infections and deaths globally. In Cameroon, the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was introduced in July 2011, using a 3-dose Expanded programme on immunization (EPI) schedule administered to infants at 6, 10 and 14 weeks of age. To evaluate PCV13 effects, we assessed pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization and serotype distribution among Cameroonian children after PCV13 introduction.

METHODS: Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs were collected from eligible children aged 24-36 months in two cross-sectional surveys conducted from March to July: in 2013 (PCV13-unvaccinated), and in 2015 (PCV13-vaccinated). Using a systematic World Health Organization (WHO) cluster coverage sampling technique in 40 communities, NP swabs collected were processed following WHO recommendations. Standard bacterial culture techniques were used for the isolation of S. pneumoniae from gentamicin-blood agar plates and identification using optochin susceptibility testing. Serotyping was performed using sequential multiplex polymerase chain reaction, supplemented with Quellung test.

RESULTS: Among the PCV13-vaccinated children, overall pneumococcal carriage prevalence was 61.8% (426/689) and PCV13 vaccine-type carriage prevalence was 18.0% (123/689). Eleven out of the 13 vaccine serotypes were detected in the vaccinated children. The most common serotypes were 19F (4.5%, 31/689) and 15B/C (7.3%, 50/689).

CONCLUSION: In Cameroon, four years after infant vaccination nearly all of the PCV13-serotypes continued to circulate in the population. This suggests that the direct and indirect effects of the vaccination programme have not resulted in expected low levels of vaccine-type transmission. Continuous monitoring is needed to assess the long term effects of the PCV13 on nasopharyngeal carriage and disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-120
Number of pages8
Publication statusPublished - Sept 2020
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Cameroon/epidemiology
  • Carrier State/epidemiology
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunization Programs
  • Immunization Schedule
  • Male
  • Nasopharynx/microbiology
  • Pneumococcal Infections/epidemiology
  • Pneumococcal Vaccines/administration & dosage
  • Prevalence
  • Serogroup
  • Serotyping
  • Streptococcus pneumoniae/genetics
  • Vaccination

Publication forum classification

  • Publication forum level 1


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