Journal Article

An Outbreak of Conjunctivitis Due to a Novel Unencapsulated <i>Streptococcus pneumoniae</i> among Military Trainees

Nancy F. Crum, Christopher P. Barrozo, Frank A. Chapman, Margaret A. K. Ryan and Kevin L. Russell

in Clinical Infectious Diseases

Published on behalf of Infectious Diseases Society of America

Volume 39, issue 8, pages 1148-1154
Published in print October 2004 | ISSN: 1058-4838
Published online October 2004 | e-ISSN: 1537-6591 | DOI:
An Outbreak of Conjunctivitis Due to a Novel Unencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae among Military Trainees

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Background. Bacterial conjunctivitis usually occurs as sporadic cases; outbreaks are uncommon and usually are associated with school campuses. We report an outbreak of Streptococcus pneumoniae conjunctivitis at a military training facility.

Methods. An outbreak investigation was done. Each case of conjunctivitis was evaluated with an assessment tool including demographic and clinical data. Conjunctival swabs were obtained. Pneumococci underwent standard testing, including serotyping with the Quellung reaction, capsular staining, and multilocus sequence typing. Sequence types were compared with previous reported outbreak strains by construction of dendrograms. Carriage rates of S. pneumoniae were determined among previously undiagnosed case patients with conjunctivitis, and a case-control study was performed. Control measures included education to increase hand washing, distribution of alcohol-based hand gel, and prompt treatment of patients with conjunctivitis.

Results. During a 6-week period, 92 cases of conjunctivitis occurred among 3500 persons, with an attack rate of 1.75 cases per 100 person-months. Eighty cases (87%) were due to S. pneumoniae; 45 (49%) were confirmed, and 35 (38%) were probable. Ten percent of recruits surveyed carried the outbreak strain. Twenty-two percent self-reported symptoms consistent with conjunctivitis during the outbreak period; sharing washcloths was associated with conjunctivitis (odds ratio, 11.7; P = .03). The causative organism was resistant to azithromycin but susceptible to telithromycin. The outbreak strain was an unencapsulated S. pneumoniae that has not been previously described; it was most closely related to the sequence type causing the Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH) outbreak of conjunctivitis in 2002.

Conclusions. We report a conjunctivitis outbreak among military trainees caused by a novel, unencapsulated strain of S. pneumoniae.

Journal Article.  3760 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Infectious Diseases ; Immunology ; Public Health and Epidemiology ; Microbiology

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