Population-Based Surveillance for Invasive Pneumococcal Disease in Homeless Adults in Toronto
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BACKGROUND: Identification of high-risk populations for serious infection due to S. pneumoniae will permit appropriately targeted prevention programs. METHODS: We conducted prospective, population-based surveillance for invasive pneumococcal disease and laboratory confirmed pneumococcal pneumonia in homeless adults in Toronto, a Canadian city with a total population of 2.5 M, from January 1, 2002 to December 31, 2006. RESULTS: We identified 69 cases of invasive pneumococcal disease and 27 cases of laboratory confirmed pneumococcal pneumonia in an estimated population of 5050 homeless adults. The incidence of invasive pneumococcal disease in homeless adults was 273 infections per 100,000 persons per year, compared to 9 per 100,000 persons per year in the general adult population. Homeless persons with invasive pneumococcal disease were younger than other adults (median age 46 years vs 67 years, P<.001), and more likely than other adults to be smokers (95% vs. 31%, P<.001), to abuse alcohol (62% vs 15%, P<.001), and to use intravenous drugs (42% vs 4%, P<.001). Relative to age matched controls, they were more likely to have underlying lung disease (12/69, 17% vs 17/272, 6%, P = .006), but not more likely to be HIV infected (17/69, 25% vs 58/282, 21%, P = .73). The proportion of patients with recurrent disease was five fold higher for homeless than other adults (7/58, 12% vs. 24/943, 2.5%, P<.001). In homeless adults, 28 (32%) of pneumococcal isolates were of serotypes included in the 7-valent conjugate vaccine, 42 (48%) of serotypes included in the 13-valent conjugate vaccine, and 72 (83%) of serotypes included in the 23-valent polysaccharide vaccine. Although no outbreaks of disease were identified in shelters, there was evidence of clustering of serotypes suggestive of transmission of pathogenic strains within the homeless population. CONCLUSIONS: Homeless persons are at high risk of serious pneumococcal infection. Vaccination, physical structure changes or other program to reduce transmission in shelters, harm reduction programs to reduce rates of smoking, alcohol abuse and infection with bloodborne pathogens, and improved treatment programs for HIV infection may all be effective in reducing the risk.