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J Infect. 1999 Jul;39(1):42-8.

Meningococcal carriage in relation to an outbreak of invasive disease due to Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C in the Netherlands.

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  • 1Department of Infectious Diseases Epidemiology, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment, Bilthoven, The Netherlands.



a cross-sectional study on meningococcal carriage was performed in Putten, a small rural town in the Netherlands where an unusual high incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) due to Neisseria meningitidis C:2a:P1.5 occurred. The outbreak was controlled by mass vaccination of all inhabitants aged 2 to 20 years.


meningococcal carriage was studied in three groups: (1) a systematic age-specific sample of 2-20 year olds who visited the immunization clinic in Putten (January 1998: n=411); (2) children and adolescents in the same age range recruited through a kindergarten and schools in Venlo, a town where the causative strain of IMD had not been encountered (February 1998; n=374); (3) all initial carriers in Putten and a sample of non-carriers in that town (March 1998: n=145). Oropharyngeal swabs were taken for the purpose of isolating N. menigitidis.


the prevalence of carriage was 12.4% in Putten and 18.2%, in Venlo, but the prevalence of group C meningococci was higher in Putten (1.7%) than Venlo (0.5%). N. meningitidis C:2a:P1.5 was isolated twice in Putten and not at all in Venlo. A second examination in Putten showed that 18 of the 22 repeatedly tested carriers were still carriers, and six new carriers were found among the 55 initial non-carriers. Of the two known carriers of C:2a:P1.5, one was still carrying the same strain, and the other did not participate in the second investigation. Carriage was associated with increasing family size, discotheque visits and visits to youth clubs and sports clubs. In contrast, visits to the swimming pool appeared to be related to a lower risk, as was recent antibiotic use.


the prevalence of carriage with the invasive strain C:2a:P1.5 was low in the population that experienced a community-wide outbreak recently: the specific strain was not found in the reference population. This indicates a relatively high risk of developing the invasive disease for those who become infected with such strains.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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