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J Infect Dis. 1989 Apr;159(4):686-700.

Clonal and variable properties of Neisseria meningitidis isolated from cases and carriers during and after an epidemic in The Gambia, West Africa.

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Max Planck Institut für Molekulare Genetik, West Berlin.


A representative collection of meningococci was isolated from cases and healthy carriers in The Gambia between 1982 and 1988, during and after an epidemic of meningococcal meningitis. These bacteria were subjected to a clonal analysis. All serogroup A bacteria from both cases and carriers were of one clone (A IV-1). Several unrelated clones were observed among serogroup 29E and serogroup Y carrier strains. The serogroup A strains were uniform for serotype and subtype antigens (serotype 4, subtype P1.7) and antibiotic sensitivity pattern. Occasional strains varied in their lipopolysaccharide (LPS), DNA fingerprint pattern, and/or the quantitative expression of the class 1 protein. A high degree of strain-specific variation was found for the expression of class 5 proteins, pili, and sulfonamide sensitivity. The frequency of strains expressing reduced amounts of the class 1 protein, altered LPS, and/or increased amounts of capsular polysaccharide rose among case strains obtained after the epidemic had ceased. These strains seem to be generally resistant to antibody-mediated bactericidal activity.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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