Epidemiology of invasive pneumococcal infections in infants and young children in Metropolitan Santiago, Chile, a newly industrializing country

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To study the epidemiology of invasive pneumococcal infections in infants and young children in Santiago, Chile, as a representative pediatric population in a newly industrializing country where pneumococcal conjugate vaccines may be used in the future.


A 5-year retrospective laboratory-based review (1989 to 1993) was followed by a 3-year prospective laboratory and hospital surveillance study in two of the six health administrative areas of Santiago to detect all hospitalized cases of invasive pneumococcal disease (defined as Streptococcus pneumoniae isolated from blood, cerebrospinal fluid or another normally sterile site) among infants and children (0 to 23 months of age in the retrospective and 0 to 59 months of age in the prospective study).


During the 5-year retrospective survey the incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease was 90.6 cases per 105 infants 0 to 11 months old and 18.5 cases per 105 toddlers 12 to 23 months old. Similar rates (60.2 per 105 infants and 18.1 per 105 toddlers) were recorded during the 3 years of prospective surveillance. Among the 110 cases in children 0 to 59 months of age detected during the 3-year prospective surveillance, 2 clinical forms, pneumonia and meningitis, accounted for 87.2% of all cases; 13 of the 49 pneumonia patients (26%) had empyema as a complication. Notably 40 of the 110 cases (36.4%) occurred before 6 months of age (63.4% of the 63 infant cases). Serotypes 1, 14, 5 and 6B were the most prevalent. Overall 76 and 69%, respectively, of S. pneumoniae isolates were antigenic types that would be covered by the 11- or 9-valent conjugate vaccines under development.


Invasive pneumococcal infections in Santiago, Chile, exhibit an epidemiologic pattern intermediate between that of developing and industrialized countries. The high burden of disease in early infancy dictates that an accelerated immunization schedule (beginning in the perinatal period) or maternal immunization with pneumococcal vaccines should be explored.

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