Changes in serogroup and genotype prevalence among carried meningococci in the United Kingdom during vaccine implementation.
Ibarz-Pavón AB., Maclennan J., Andrews NJ., Gray SJ., Urwin R., Clarke SC., Walker AM., Evans MR., Kroll JS., Neal KR., Ala'aldeen D., Crook DW., Cann K., Harrison S., Cunningham R., Baxter D., Kaczmarski E., McCarthy ND., Jolley KA., Cameron JC., Stuart JM., Maiden MCJ.
BACKGROUND: Herd immunity is important in the effectiveness of conjugate polysaccharide vaccines against encapsulated bacteria. A large multicenter study investigated the effect of meningococcal serogroup C conjugate vaccine introduction on the meningococcal population. METHODS: Carried meningococci in individuals aged 15-19 years attending education establishments were investigated before and for 2 years after vaccine introduction. Isolates were characterized by multilocus sequence typing, serogroup, and capsular region genotype and changes in phenotypes and genotypes assessed. RESULTS: A total of 8462 meningococci were isolated from 47 765 participants (17.7%). Serogroup prevalence was similar over the 3 years, except for decreases of 80% for serogroup C and 40% for serogroup 29E. Clonal complexes were associated with particular serogroups and their relative proportions fluctuated, with 12 statistically significant changes (6 up, 6 down). The reduction of ST-11 complex serogroup C meningococci was probably due to vaccine introduction. Reasons for a decrease in serogroup 29E ST-254 meningococci (from 1.8% to 0.7%) and an increase in serogroup B ST-213 complex meningococci (from 6.7% to 10.6%) were less clear. CONCLUSIONS: Natural fluctuations in carried meningococcal genotypes and phenotypes a can be affected by the use of conjugate vaccines, and not all of these changes are anticipatable in advance of vaccine introduction.