Outbreak of W135 meningococcal disease in 2000: not emergence of a new W135 strain but clonal expansion within the electophoretic type-37 complex

J Infect Dis. 2002 Jun 1;185(11):1596-605. doi: 10.1086/340414. Epub 2002 May 17.


In 2000, >400 cases of disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W135 (MenW135), the largest MenW135 outbreak reported to date, occurred worldwide among Hajj pilgrims and their contacts. To elucidate the origin of the outbreak strains and to investigate their relatedness to major clonal groups, genotypic and phenotypic subtyping was performed on 26 MenW135 outbreak-associated isolates and 50 MenW135 isolates collected worldwide from 1970 through 2000. All outbreak-associated isolates were members of a single clone of the hypervirulent electrophoretic type (ET)-37 complex, designated the "(W)ET-37 clone"; 19 additional MenW135 strains were also members of this clone, and the remaining 31 MenW135 strains were clearly distinct. The 2000 MenW135 outbreak was not caused by emergence of a new MenW135 strain but rather by expansion of the (W)ET-37 clone that has been in circulation at least since 1970; the strains most closely related to those causing the 2000 outbreak have been isolated in Algeria, Mali, and The Gambia in the 1990s.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Bacterial Typing Techniques
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • DNA, Bacterial / genetics
  • Disease Outbreaks*
  • Electrophoresis / methods
  • Genotype
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Islam
  • Meningococcal Infections / epidemiology*
  • Meningococcal Infections / microbiology
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / physiology
  • Phenotype
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S / genetics
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA / methods
  • Travel
  • Virulence / genetics


  • DNA, Bacterial
  • RNA, Ribosomal, 16S