Molecular epidemiology of sporadic (endemic) serogroup C meningococcal disease

J Infect Dis. 1997 Nov;176(5):1277-84. doi: 10.1086/514123.


Understanding the basis of sporadic (endemic) meningococcal disease may be critical to prevention of meningococcal epidemic outbreaks and to understanding fluctuations in incidence. Active, prospective, population-based surveillance and molecular epidemiologic techniques were used to study sporadic serogroup C meningococcal disease in a population of 2.34 million persons (Atlanta area). During 1988-1994, in which no outbreaks or case clusters were reported, 71 patients developed sporadic serogroup C meningococcal disease (annual incidence, 0.51/100,000). Eighty-three percent of patients were >2 years old. By multilocus enzyme electrophoresis, pulsed-field gel electrophoresis, and serotyping, 84% (52/62) of the isolates available for study were identical or closely related members of the electrophoretic type 37 (ET 37) complex responsible for multiple serogroup C outbreaks in the United States in the 1990s. Sporadic disease caused by 9 clonal strains occurred over periods up to 4 years and accounted for 45% (28/62) of cases. Sporadic serogroup C meningococcal disease was most often due to a limited number of related strains that appear to slowly circulate in the population.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Meningococcal Infections / epidemiology
  • Meningococcal Infections / microbiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification*
  • Serotyping