RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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Meningococcal carriage during a clonal meningococcal B outbreak in France.

The aim of this study performed in Normandy, France, was to analyze the pharyngeal meningococcal carriage at the peak of a clonal meningococcal B outbreak, which was subsequently controlled using an outer membrane vesicle vaccination. This cross-sectional study included randomly selected subjects aged 1-25 years. Carriers and non carriers were compared using unconditional logistic regression. Among the 3,522 volunteers, there were 196 (standardized rate: 6.46 %) Neisseria meningitidis carriers, of which there were only five with the outbreak strain (B:14:P1.7,16/ST-32; standardized rate: 0.18 %). From the multivariate analysis, older age, smoking, higher degree of socialization, and social deprivation appear to favor the carriage of all the strains included. Prior antibiotic treatment up to 12 months before swabbing, even with β-lactam, was protective against carriage. Our data indicate a low overall meningococcal carriage rate with a surprising protective effect of prior antibiotic exposure. The observed low carriage rate of the epidemic strain (B:14:P1.7,16/ST-32) contrasts with the high incidence of invasive meningococcal diseases (IMD) due to this strain. Hence, our data underline the high virulence of the strain and suggest a low level of natural immunity of the population against this strain. Although highly resource-consuming, carriage studies are helpful in guiding the implementation of control measures of IMD, such as mass vaccination or chemoprophylaxis.

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