Liset Olarte, MD, MSc, Division of Infectious Diseases, recently received a grant award to investigate pneumococcal colonization in children aged 5 and younger during the SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic.
The $129,892 award from the Merck Investigator Studies Program allows Dr. Olarte and her colleagues to study whether social distancing and other public health measures implemented during the pandemic decreases the nasopharyngeal colonization of Streptococcus pneumoniae in young children with and without respiratory symptoms.
Pneumococcal colonization plays an important role in the development of conditions like otitis media, sinusitis, meningitis and pneumonia, among others. In the nasopharynx, S. pneumoniae can acquire genetic material from other bacteria and become increasingly resistant to the antibiotics used to treat these illnesses.
“Understanding how public health measures implemented to slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in the community affect pneumococcal colonization in young children is critical, since they have the highest rates of pneumococcal colonization and are at risk for developing invasive pneumococcal diseases,” Dr. Olarte said. “The results of the study will provide important information on the relationship between SARS-CoV-2 pandemic and pneumococcal colonization and its impact on invasive pneumococcal disease.”
Dr. Olarte’s Children’s Mercy co-investigators on the study include Rangaraj Selvarangan, PhD, Director of the Clinical Microbiology and Virology Laboratory; Douglas Swanson, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases; and Christopher Harrison, MD, Division of Infectious Diseases.