An outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis among older children (>= 5 years) and adults after the implementation of an infant vaccination programme with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine in Ghana

Brenda Anna Kwambana-Adams, Franklin Asiedu-Bekoe, Badu Sarkodie, Osei Kuffour Afreh, George Khumalo Kuma, Godfred Owusu-Okyere, Ebenezer Foster-Nyarko, Sally-Ann Ohene, Charles Okot, Archibald Kwame Worwui, Catherine Okoi, Madikay Senghore, Jacob Kweku Otu, Chinelo Ebruke, Richard Bannerman, Kwame Amponsa-Achiano, David Opare, Gemma Kay, Timothy Letsa, Owen KaluwaEbenezer Appiah-Denkyira, Victor Bampoe, Syed M. A. Zaman, Mark J. Pallen, Umberto D'Alessandro, Jason M. Mwenda, Martin Antonio

    Research output: Contribution to journalA1: Web of Science-articlepeer-review

    3 Downloads (Pure)


    Background: An outbreak of pneumococcal meningitis among non-infant children and adults occurred in the Brong-Ahafo region of Ghana between December 2015 and April 2016 despite the recent nationwide implementation of a vaccination programme for infants with the 13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13).

    Methods: Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) specimens were collected from patients with suspected meningitis in the Brong-Ahafo region. CSF specimens were subjected to Gram staining, culture and rapid antigen testing. Quantitative PCR was performed to identify pneumococcus, meningococcus and Haemophilus influenzae. Latex agglutination and molecular serotyping were performed on samples. Antibiogram and whole genome sequencing were performed on pneumococcal isolates.

    Results: Eight hundred eighty six patients were reported with suspected meningitis in the Brong-Ahafo region during the period of the outbreak. In the epicenter district, the prevalence was as high as 363 suspected cases per 100,000 people. Over 95 % of suspected cases occurred in non-infant children and adults, with a median age of 20 years. Bacterial meningitis was confirmed in just under a quarter of CSF specimens tested. Pneumococcus, meningococcus and Group B Streptococcus accounted for 77 %, 22 % and 1 % of confirmed cases respectively. The vast majority of serotyped pneumococci (80 %) belonged to serotype 1. Most of the pneumococcal isolates tested were susceptible to a broad range of antibiotics, with the exception of two pneumococcal serotype 1 strains that were resistant to both penicillin and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole. All sequenced pneumococcal serotype 1 strains belong to Sequence Type (ST) 303 in the hypervirulent ST217 clonal complex.

    Conclusion: The occurrence of a pneumococcal serotype 1 meningitis outbreak three years after the introduction of PCV13 is alarming and calls for strengthening of meningitis surveillance and a re-evaluation of the current vaccination programme in high risk countries.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number575
    JournalBMC Infectious Diseases
    Number of pages11
    Publication statusPublished - 2016


    • Pneumococcus
    • Outbreak
    • Serotype 1
    • Ghana
    • Meningitis belt
    • West Africa
    • Meningitis
    • Pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV)
    • AFRICA

    Cite this