Occurrence, distribution, and origins of Streptococcus pneumoniae Serotype 6C, a recently recognized serotype.
The prevalence of Streptococcus pneumoniae serotype 6C, a recently recognized serotype that cross-reacts serologically with serotype 6A, was investigated. Isolates of serotype 6A in various collections were recovered, and serotype 6C was differentiated from 6A by multiplex PCR of DNA extracts by using appropriate primers. Antimicrobial susceptibility was performed by Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute broth microdilution, and selected isolates were typed by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, repetitive sequence-based PCR typing, and rapid multilocus sequence typing (MLST) by electrospray ionization mass spectrometry of PCR products. A total of 60 serotype 6C isolates were found: 30 of 122 Cleveland isolates collected from 1979 to 2007, 19 of 39 pediatric isolates collected nationwide in 2005 and 2006, and 11 pediatric isolates from Massachusetts collected in 2006 and 2007. Only four isolates were recovered prior to introduction of the conjugate pneumococcal vaccine in 2000; the earliest isolate was recovered in 1989. The sources of the isolates included blood (n = 5), the lower respiratory tract (n = 27), the sinus (n = 5), the ear (n = 2), and the nasopharynx (n = 18); isolates were recovered from 49 children and 11 adults. Pediatric isolates were found in all six major U.S. geographic regions. Antimicrobial susceptibility showed that 22 isolates were nonsusceptible to penicillin, macrolides, and trimethoprim-sulfamethoxazole, 8 had other resistance patterns, and 30 were fully susceptible. The three typing methods used showed similar clusters of up to eight isolates per cluster. MLST showed five clusters related to serotype 6A, two clusters related to serotype 6B, one cluster related to serotype 3, and one cluster related to serotype 34. This study documents the occurrence, nationwide distribution, diversity, likely origins, and increasing incidence after 2001 of this recently recognized serotype. Serotype 6C warrants consideration for addition to future conjugate pneumococcal vaccines.