Meningococcal carriage among a university student population-United States, 2015

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Family Medicine


Objectives : Several outbreaks of serogroup B meningococcal disease have occurred among university students in recent years. In the setting of high coverage of the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine and prior to widespread use of serogroup B meningococcal vaccines among adolescents, we conducted surveys to characterize the prevalence and molecular characteristics of meningococcal carriage among university students.
Methods: Two cross-sectional oropharyngeal carriage surveys were conducted among undergraduates at a Rhode Island university. Isolates were characterized using slide agglutination, real-time polymerase chain reaction (rt-PCR), and whole genome sequencing. Adjusted prevalence ratios and 95% confidence intervals were calculated using Poisson regression to determine risk factors for carriage.
Results : A total of 1837 oropharyngeal specimens were obtained from 1478 unique participants. Overall carriage prevalence was 12.7-14.6% during the two survey rounds, with 1.8-2.6% for capsular genotype B, 0.9-1.0% for capsular genotypes C, W, or Y, and 9.9-10.8% for nongroupable strains by rt-PCR. Meningococcal carriage was associated with being male, smoking, party or club attendance, recent antibiotic use (inverse correlation), and recent respiratory infections.
Conclusions : In this university setting, the majority of meningococcal carriage was due to nongroupable strains, followed by serogroup B. Further evaluation is needed to understand the dynamics of serogroup B carriage and disease among university students.


This work was published before the author joined Aga Khan University.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.