During the past decades Streptococcus pneumoniae has developed significant resistance to many classes of antimicrobial drugs. Potential risk factors for colonization of the nasopharynx by Streptococcus pneumoniae in children and for carriage of drug resistant strains were examined.
Between 2007 and 2008 nasopharyngeal swabs were collected from 402 children 6 months to 5 years old visiting the public sector immunization centers and outpatient departments as well as offices of paediatricians from private practice in Nicosia district in Cyprus. Information on demographic characteristics and potential risk factors of participating children were collected using a standardized questionnaire distributed to parents.
In multivariable analyses we found that attendance at day care center, having siblings in the family and having both parents originating from Cyprus, statistically increased the risk of pneumococcal colonization. Full immunization with PCV7 appears to be a protective factor against colonization by pneumococcus. Previous administration of antimicrobials during the last month prior to specimen collection appeared to be the most consistent risk factor for carrying a non susceptible strain of Streptococcus pneumoniae to either penicillin or erythromycin. Factors such as age, nationality, previous or current breastfeeding, passive exposure to cigarette smoke and attendance in a day care center do not appear as independent risk factors for colonization by non susceptible strains.
Prudent use of antibiotics especially for upper respiratory tract infections in children as well as increased vaccination coverage by the pneumococcal conjugate vaccines could prove effective in reducing levels of colonization by drug resistant pneumococcal strains.