RESEARCH Microbial Interactions during Upper Respiratory Tract Infections
Streptococcus pneumoniae, Haemophilus influenzae, Moraxella catarrhalis, and Staphylococcus aureus often colonize the nasopharynx. Children are susceptible to bacterial infections during or soon after upper respiratory tract infection (URI). We describe colonization with these 4 bacteria species alone or in combination during URI. Data were from a prospective cohort of healthy children 6 to 36 months of age followed up for 1 year. Analyses of 968 swabs from 212 children indicated that S. pneumoniae colonization is negatively associated with colonization by H. influenzae. Competitive interactions shifted when H. influenzae and M. catarrhalis colonized together. In this situation, the likelihood of colonization with all 3 species is higher. Negative associations were identified between S. pneumoniae and S. aureus and between H. influenzae and S. aureus. Polymicrobial interactions differed by number and species of bacteria present. Antimicrobial therapy and vaccination strategies targeting specific bacterial species may alter the flora in unforeseen ways.