Meningitis caused by a serogroup W135 clone of the ET-37 complex of Neisseria meningitidis in West Africa

Trop Med Int Health. 1998 Sep;3(9):742-6. doi: 10.1046/j.1365-3156.1998.00300.x.


Meningococci belonging to serogroup W135 caused several cases of meningococcal meningitis in The Gambia in 1995 and were isolated during a serogroup A epidemic in Mali in 1994. The eight isolates tested belonged to the same clone of the ET-37 complex and differed in several bands from the pulsed-field gel electrophoresis restriction pattern of serogroup C meningococci of the ET-37 complex isolated in Mali. Three of 6 patients infected in The Gambia died, indicating that this W135 clone is virulent. Vaccines that protect only against infections with meningococci belonging to serogroups A and C are usually used to control outbreaks in Africa, although vaccines containing the W135 polysaccharide are available. The findings of this study indicate that outbreaks of meningococcal meningitis in Africa can be associated with serogroup W135 infections and that serogrouping is essential before vaccination campaigns are started.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • DNA, Bacterial / analysis
  • Disease Outbreaks / prevention & control
  • Disease Outbreaks / statistics & numerical data*
  • Electrophoresis, Gel, Pulsed-Field
  • Female
  • Gambia / epidemiology
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Male
  • Mali / epidemiology
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / epidemiology*
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / microbiology*
  • Meningitis, Meningococcal / prevention & control
  • Neisseria meningitidis / classification*
  • Neisseria meningitidis / genetics
  • Polymorphism, Restriction Fragment Length
  • Population Surveillance
  • Restriction Mapping
  • Serotyping
  • Vaccination


  • Bacterial Vaccines
  • DNA, Bacterial