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Streptococcus pneumoniae FAQs and Testing Form Request

Clinicians and microbiologists evaluating pneumococcal isolates with potentially novel features (such as an unusual susceptibility profile, PCV vaccine failure) or concern about pneumococcal outbreaks should contact their state or local health departments for further assistance. CDC’s Respiratory Diseases Branch is available to offer epidemiologic assistance to state and local health departments.

Unfortunately, we do not have the resources to perform typing or other characterization for all requests sent to CDC's Streptococcal Laboratory. Therefore, we ask requestors to please review the S. pneumoniae Lab Request FAQs before contacting us.


Streptococcus pneumoniae Lab Request FAQs

Q: Does CDC perform regular serotyping or other characterization testing for all S. pneumoniae isolates in the United States?

A: No. Due to limited resources, we only perform routine typing and characterization on invasive isolates from a limited number of sites within the Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs) area. This area includes about 10% of the population (about 30 million individuals).

Q: I am a clinician practicing outside the ABCs area. Can I request to have typing or other characterization testing performed on isolates that are not part of your routine surveillance area?

A: You should first contact your state health department. Several state public health laboratories can perform pneumococcal serotyping and confirmatory susceptibility testing.

Q: I am a clinician practicing inside an ABCs area. How do I request typing of the pneumococcal isolate(s) of concern?

A: As long as the isolate is available, it will be forwarded to one or more ABCs reference laboratories for susceptibility testing and serotyping. Please contact your state health department for more information about the timing of this testing.

Q: What about individual isolates from patients who have received a pneumococcal vaccine? Do these qualify to be typed by CDC’s Streptococcus Laboratory as they may be the result of “vaccine failure”?

A: Potentially. With the 2010 release of Prevnar 13® (PCV13), CDC is currently conducting ongoing surveillance for the effectiveness of the new vaccine through Active Bacterial Core surveillance (ABCs). One component of this surveillance includes monitoring possible “vaccine failures”. CDC is not soliciting isolates from PCV13-vaccinated individuals outside the ABCs areas; however, requests for serotyping such isolates will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Please refer to the form below.

Note that after the release of Prevnar® (PCV7) in the United States in 2000, cases of the seven serotypes included in this vaccine have steadily declined and are now exceedingly rare in children in the United States, even among immunocompromised individuals.

Q: I work at a state or local health department, hospital, clinic, nursing home, or other large facility and have a cluster of isolates I would like to have serotyped. Can I request to have typing or other characterization testing performed on isolates that are not part of the ABCs area?

A: If you work for a state health department and have already determined that your state public health laboratory is unable to perform the necessary testing, please complete the form below to request testing assistance from CDC. If you do not work for a state health department, you should contact your state’s department of public health, which will investigate the cases and, if necessary, request help from CDC.

Q: My state public health laboratory is interested in developing our own serotyping capacity. What advice can CDC give us?

A: State public health laboratories interested in developing their own serotyping capacity might consider a PCR-based approach. CDC can provide training on this topic. Those interested might find it useful to review relevant recent pneumococcal publications. CDC’s PCR-based pneumococcal serotyping protocols are available at

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If your isolate is considered eligible for CDC typing or other characterization based on the FAQs above, please complete the form below in as much detail as possible. You'll hear back from CDC within 5 business days.

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