Haemophilus influenzae Carriage among Healthy Children in Portugal, 2015–2019

Maria Paula Bajanca-Lavado, Luís Cavaco, Mariana Fernandes, Tiago Touret, Catarina Candeias, Alexandra S. Simões, Raquel Sá-Leão

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5 Citations (Scopus)


Haemophilus influenzae is an important cause of mucosal and invasive infections and a common colonizer of the upper respiratory tract. As there are no recent data on H. influenzae carriage in Portugal, we aimed to characterize carriage samples and investigate possible parallelisms with disease isolates. Between 2016–2019, 1524 nasopharyngeal samples were obtained from children (0–6 years) attending day-care. H. influenzae were serotyped and screened for β-lactamase production. Strains producing β-lactamase and/or those that were encapsulated were further characterized by antibiotype; encapsulated strains were also investigated for MLST and the presence of antimicrobial resistance and virulence genes (extracted from whole genome sequencing). The overall carriage rate was 84.1%. Most isolates (96.7%) were nonencapsulated. Encapsulated strains were of serotypes f (1.8%), e (1.1%), a (0.3%), and b (0.1%). MLST showed clonality within serotypes. Although the lineages were the same as those that were described among disease isolates, colonization isolates had fewer virulence determinants. Overall, 7.5% of the isolates were β-lactamase positive; one isolate had blaTEM-82, which has not been previously described in H. influenzae. A single isolate, which was identified as H. parainfluenzae, had an incomplete f-like cap locus. In conclusion, circulation of serotype b is residual. The few encapsulated strains are genetically related to disease-causing isolates. Thus, surveillance of H. influenzae carriage should be maintained.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1964
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


  • antimicrobial resistance
  • capsule
  • carriage
  • children
  • day-care center
  • Haemophilus influenzae
  • MLST
  • serotype
  • surveillance
  • whole genome sequencing


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