Background. Streptococcus pneumoniae is a major cause of acute otitis media (AOM) in young children. More than 90 immunologically distinct pneumococcal serotypes have been identified, but limited information is available regarding their relative importance in AOM. Methods. We analyzed nine existing datasets comprising pneumococcal isolates from middle ear fluid samples collected from 1994 through 2000 from 3232 children with AOM from Finland, France, Greece, Israel, several East European countries, the US and Argentina. We examined the distribution of pneumococcal serotypes in relation to several demographic and epidemiologic variables, including gender, age, antibiotic resistance and source of culture material. Results. The major serotypes identified included 19F and 23F, each comprising 13 to 25% of pneumococcal middle ear fluid isolates in most datasets; 14 and 6B, comprising 6 to 18%; whereas 6A, 19A and 9V each comprised 5 to 10%. Despite differences in location, study design and antibiotic susceptibility, each major serotype was prominent in most age groups of each dataset. Serotypes represented in the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV-7, 4, 6B, 9V, 14, 18C, 19F, 23F) accounted for 60 to 70% of all pneumococcal isolates in the 6- to 59-month age range, but only 40 to 50% of isolates in children <6 or ≥60 months old. Serotype 3 and, in certain datasets, serotypes 1 and 5, were more important in the <6- and ≥60-month age groups. In each age group vaccine-related serotypes (mainly 6A and 19A) comprised an additional 10 to 15% of all pneumococcal isolates. Four serotypes (23F, 19F, 14 and 6B) accounted for 83% of all penicillin-resistant observations. Conclusions. This analysis of several geographically diverse datasets indicates that a limited number of serotypes, largely represented in PCV-7, accounted for the majority of episodes of pneumococcal AOM in children between 6 and 59 months of age. Certain serotypes appeared to be relatively more significant in children <6 months or >59 months of age.
- Acute otitis media