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Clin Infect Dis. 2017 Apr 15;64(8):1115-1122. doi: 10.1093/cid/cix091.

Meningococcal Carriage Evaluation in Response to a Serogroup B Meningococcal Disease Outbreak and Mass Vaccination Campaign at a College-Rhode Island, 2015-2016.

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Epidemic Intelligence Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.
National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
Rhode Island Department of Health , The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University , Providence , Rhode Island , USA.
Providence College, Providence, Rhode Island, USA.



Serogroup B meningococcal disease caused 7 US university outbreaks during 2013-2016. Neisseria meningitidis can be transmitted via asymptomatic nasopharyngeal carriage. MenB-FHbp (factor H binding protein), a serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) vaccine, was used to control a college outbreak. We investigated MenB-FHbp impact on meningococcal carriage.


Four cross-sectional surveys were conducted in conjunction with MenB-FHbp vaccination campaigns. Questionnaires and oropharyngeal swabs were collected from students. Specimens were evaluated using culture, slide agglutination, real-time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR), and whole genome sequencing. Adjusted prevalence ratios (aPRs) were calculated using generalized estimating equations.


During each survey, 20%-24% of participants carried any meningococcal bacteria and 4% carried serogroup B by rt-PCR. The outbreak strain (ST-9069) was not detected during the initial survey; 1 student carried ST-9069 in the second and third surveys. No carriage reduction was observed over time or with more MenB-FHbp doses. In total, 615 students participated in multiple surveys: 71% remained noncarriers, 8% cleared carriage, 15% remained carriers, and 7% acquired carriage. Ten students acquired serogroup B carriage: 3 after 1 MenB-FHbp dose, 4 after 2 doses, and 3 after 3 doses. Smoking (aPR, 1.3; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.1-1.5) and male sex (aPR, 1.3; 95% CI, 1.1-1.5) were associated with increased meningococcal carriage.


Carriage prevalence on campus remained stable, suggesting MenB-FHbp does not rapidly reduce meningococcal carriage or prevent serogroup B carriage acquisition. This reinforces the need for high vaccination coverage to protect vaccinated individuals and chemoprophylaxis for close contacts during outbreaks.


meningococcal disease; nasopharyngeal carriage; serogroup B; vaccines; outbreak

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