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Genetic Characterisation of Malawian Pneumococci Prior to the Roll-Out of the PCV13 Vaccine Using a High-Throughput Whole Genome Sequencing Approach
Published: Monday, September 10, 2012
Author: Dean B. Everett et al.

by Dean B. Everett, Jennifer Cornick, Brigitte Denis, Claire Chewapreecha, Nicholas Croucher, Simon Harris, Julian Parkhill, Stephen Gordon, Enitan D. Carrol, Neil French, Robert S. Heyderman, Stephen D. Bentley

Background

Malawi commenced the introduction of the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) into the routine infant immunisation schedule in November 2011. Here we have tested the utility of high throughput whole genome sequencing to provide a high-resolution view of pre-vaccine pneumococcal epidemiology and population evolutionary trends to predict potential future change in population structure post introduction.

Methods

One hundred and twenty seven (127) archived pneumococcal isolates from randomly selected adults and children presenting to the Queen Elizabeth Central Hospital, Blantyre, Malawi underwent whole genome sequencing.

Results

The pneumococcal population was dominated by serotype 1 (20.5% of invasive isolates) prior to vaccine introduction. PCV13 is likely to protect against 62.9% of all circulating invasive pneumococci (78.3% in under-5-year-olds). Several Pneumococcal Molecular Epidemiology Network (PMEN) clones are now in circulation in Malawi which were previously undetected but the pandemic multidrug resistant PMEN1 lineage was not identified. Genome analysis identified a number of novel sequence types and serotype switching.

Conclusions

High throughput genome sequencing is now feasible and has the capacity to simultaneously elucidate serotype, sequence type and as well as detailed genetic information. It enables population level characterization, providing a detailed picture of population structure and genome evolution relevant to disease control. Post-vaccine introduction surveillance supported by genome sequencing is essential to providing a comprehensive picture of the impact of PCV13 on pneumococcal population structure and informing future public health interventions.

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