Pneumococcal Carriage Among Sickle Cell Disease Patients in Accra, Ghana

Pneumococcal carriage is the precursor for development of pneumococcal disease, and is also responsible for transmission of the organism from person-to-person. Individuals with Sickle Cell Disease (SCD) are more likely to develop invasive disease with S. pneumoniae compared to their healthy counterparts and the presentation of disease in the former is usually abrupt and severe. In Africa, little is known about the pneumococcus in relation to people with SCD Sickle Cell Disease (SCD). The aim of the study was to investigate the epidemiology of pneumococcal carriage among SCD patients including the carriage prevalence, risk factors, serotypes and antibiotic resistance.

This was a cross sectional study involving 402 SCD patients recruited from Korle Bu Teaching Hospital and Princess Marie Louis Hospital in Accra from October 2016 to March 2017. The study subjects included 202 children of the age groups: 5 years (94), >5–9 years (75), 10–13 years (33) and 200 adults of the age groups: 14–20 years (46), 21–40 years (112), 41–60 years (25), 61 years (17). Nasopharyngeal (NP) swabs were collected from the study participants as well as epidemiological data on demographic, household and clinical features. The NP specimens were cultured for S. pneumoniae and the isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination. Antimicrobial susceptibility tests of the isolates were done by the disc diffusion test and E-test.

Prevalence of S. pneumoniae carriage among children and adult SCD patients enrolled in the study were 79/202 (39.1%; 95% CI: 32.3 to 46.2) and 20/200 (10.0%; 95% CI: 6.2 to 15.0) respectively. Risk factors associated with pneumococcal carriage were age (OR = 1.137; 95% CI: 1.036–1.248; p = 0.007) and runny nose (OR = 5.371; 95% CI: 1.760–16.390; p = 0.003). Overall, twenty-six pneumococcal serotypes were isolated from the study participants and the predominant serotype was 6B (10.6%), followed by 23B (8.2%). Among the children, serotype coverage of the 13-valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, which is currently used in Ghana was 32.4%. Prevalence of penicillin resistance among the pneumococcal isolates was 37.4% (37/99) and all the penicillin-resistant isolates exhibited intermediate penicillin resistance with the exception of one isolate that showed full resistance and was susceptible to ceftriaxone. Prevalence of resistance to the other antibiotics ranged from 2.5% (levofloxacin) to 85% (cotrimoxazole). Multidrug resistance occurred among 34.3% (34/99) of the pneumococcal isolates.

Pneumococcal carriage was four-fold higher in SCD children than adults and was characterized by predominance of non-vaccine serotypes and considerable level of multidrug resistance, though penicillin, cefotaxime and levofloxacin resistance appeared to be very low.