Nasopharyngeal carriage of respiratory pathogens in Warao Amerindians: significant relationship with stunting

Lilly M Verhagen, Meyke Hermsen, Ismar A Rivera-Olivero, María Carolina Sisco, Marien I de Jonge, Peter W M Hermans, Jacobus H de Waard

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objective: To assess risk factors for nasopharyngeal carriage of potential pathogens in geographically isolated Warao Amerindians in Venezuela. Methods: In this point prevalence survey, nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from 1064 Warao Amerindians: 504 children aged 0–4 years, 227 children aged 5–10 years and 333 caregivers. Written questionnaires were completed to obtain information on demographics and environmental risk factors. Anthropometric measurements were performed in children aged 0–4 years. Results: Carriage rates of Streptococcus pneumoniae, Staphylococcus aureus, Haemophilus influenzae and Moraxella catarrhalis were 51%, 7%, 1% and 13%, respectively. Crowding index, method of cooking and tobacco exposure were not associated with increased carriage. In multivariable analysis, an increase in height-for-age Z score (i.e. improved chronic nutritional status) was associated with decreased odds of S. pneumoniae colonisation (OR 0.76, 95% CI 0.70–0.83) in children aged 0–4 years. Conclusions: Better knowledge of demographic and environmental risk factors facilitates better understanding of the dynamics of colonisation with respiratory bacteria in an Amerindian population. Poor chronic nutritional status was associated with increased pathogen carriage in children <5 years of age. The high rates of stunting generally observed in indigenous children may fuel the acquisition of respiratory bacteria that can lead to respiratory and invasive disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)407-414
Number of pages8
JournalTropical medicine & international health
Issue number4
Early online date10 Jan 2017
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2017


  • chronic malnutrition
  • indigenous people
  • nasopharyngeal colonisation
  • respiratory pathogens
  • risk factors
  • Prevalence
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Child, Preschool
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Staphylococcus/growth & development
  • Young Adult
  • Adult
  • Female
  • Indians, South American
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Nutritional Status
  • Child
  • Carrier State
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Gram-Negative Bacteria/growth & development
  • Risk Factors
  • Growth Disorders/complications
  • Venezuela
  • Respiratory Tract Infections/etiology
  • Nasopharynx/microbiology
  • Adolescent
  • Body Height


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