Pharyngeal carriage of Neisseria species in the African meningitis belt
Diallo K., Maiden MCJ., Bennett None., Rebbetts LS., Watkins ER.
Objectives. Neisseria meningitidis, together with the non-pathogenic Neisseria species (NPNs), are members of the complex microbiota of the human pharynx. This paper investigates the influence of NPNs on the epidemiology of meningococcal infection. Methods. Neisseria isolates were collected during 18 surveys conducted in six countries in the African meningitis belt between 2010 and 2012 and characterized at the rplF locus to determine species and at the variable region of the fetA antigen gene. Prevalence and risk factors for carriage were analyzed. Results. A total of 4694 isolates of Neisseria were obtained from 46034 pharyngeal swabs, a carriage prevalence of 10.2% (95% CI, 9.8-10.5). Five Neisseria species were identified, the most prevalent NPN being Neisseria lactamica. Six hundred and thirty-six combinations of rplF/fetA_VR alleles were identified, each defined as a Neisseria strain type. There was an inverse relationship between carriage of N. meningitidis and of NPNs by age group, gender and season, whereas carriage of both N. meningitidis and NPNs was negatively associated with a recent history of meningococcal vaccination. Conclusion. Variations in the prevalence of NPNs by time, place and genetic type may contribute to the particular epidemiology of meningococcal disease in the African meningitis belt.