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1.  Surveillance of Bacterial Meningitis, Ethiopia, 2012–2013  
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2016;22(1):75-78.
Among 139 patients with suspected bacterial meningitis in Ethiopia, 2012–2013, meningococci (19.4%) and pneumococci (12.9%) were the major disease-causing organisms. Meningococcal serogroups detected were A (n = 11), W (n = 7), C (n = 1), and X (n = 1). Affordable, multivalent meningitis vaccines for the African meningitis belt are urgently needed.
PMCID: PMC4696686  PMID: 26689450
bacterial meningitis; Neisseria meningitidis; Streptococcus pneumoniae; meningococci; pneumococci; meningococcal serogroups; bacteria; Ethiopia; real-time PCR
2.  Public Health Impact After the Introduction of PsA-TT: The First 4 Years 
Background. During the first introduction of a group A meningococcal vaccine (PsA-TT) in 2010–2011 and its rollout from 2011 to 2013, >150 million eligible people, representing 12 hyperendemic meningitis countries, have been vaccinated.
Methods. The new vaccine effectiveness evaluation framework was established by the World Health Organization and partners. Meningitis case-based surveillance was strengthened in PsA-TT first-introducer countries, and several evaluation studies were conducted to estimate the vaccination coverage and to measure the impact of vaccine introduction on meningococcal carriage and disease incidence.
Results. PsA-TT implementation achieved high vaccination coverage, and results from studies conducted showed significant decrease of disease incidence as well as significant reduction of oropharyngeal carriage of group A meningococci in vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals, demonstrating the vaccine's ability to generate herd protection and prevent group A epidemics.
Conclusions. Lessons learned from this experience provide useful insights in how to guide and better prepare for future new vaccine introductions in resource-limited settings.
PMCID: PMC4639484  PMID: 26553676
meningococcal group A; PsA-TT; vaccine evaluation framework; disease incidence; Africa meningitis belt
3.  Genomic Analysis of the Evolution and Global Spread of Hyper-invasive Meningococcal Lineage 5 
EBioMedicine  2015;2(3):234-243.
The predominant model for bacterial pandemics is the emergence of a virulent variant that diversifies as it spreads in human populations. We investigated a 40-year meningococcal disease pandemic caused by the hyper-invasive ET-5/ST-32 complex.
A global collection of Neisseria meningitidis isolates dating from 1969 to 2008 was whole genome sequenced (WGS) and analysed using a gene-by-gene approach at
Analysis of WGS data identified a ‘Lineage 5 pan genome’ of 1940 genes, 1752 (92%) of which were present in all isolates (Lineage 5 ‘core genome’). Genetic diversity, which was mostly generated by horizontal gene transfer, was unevenly distributed in the genome; however, genealogical analysis of diverse and conserved core genes, accessory genes, and antigen encoding genes, robustly identified a star phylogeny with a number of sub-lineages. Most European and American isolates belonged to one of two closely related sub-lineages, which had diversified before the identification of the pandemic in the 1970s. A third, genetically more diverse sub-lineage, was associated with Asian isolates. Several isolates had acquired DNA from the related gonococcus.
These data were inconsistent with a single point of origin followed by pandemic spread, rather suggesting that the sub-lineages had diversified and spread by asymptomatic transmission, with multiple distinct strains causing localised hyperendemic outbreaks.
PMCID: PMC4430826  PMID: 25984558
Neisseria meningitidis; Serogroup B; Genome sequencing; Evolution
4.  Sequential Outbreaks Due to a New Strain of Neisseria Meningitidis Serogroup C in Northern Nigeria, 2013-14 
PLoS Currents  2014;6:ecurrents.outbreaks.b50c2aaf1032b3ccade0fca0b63ee518.
Background Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C (NmC) outbreaks occur infrequently in the African meningitis belt; the most recent report of an outbreak of this serogroup was in Burkina Faso, 1979. Médecins sans Frontières (MSF) has been responding to outbreaks of meningitis in northwest Nigeria since 2007 with no reported cases of serogroup C from 2007-2012. MenAfrivac®, a serogroup A conjugate vaccine, was first used for mass vaccination in northwest Nigeria in late 2012. Reactive vaccination using polysaccharide ACYW135 vaccine was done by MSF in parts of the region in 2008 and 2009; no other vaccination campaigns are known to have occurred in the area during this period. We describe the general characteristics of an outbreak due to a novel strain of NmC in Sokoto State, Nigeria, in 2013, and a smaller outbreak in 2014 in the adjacent state, Kebbi. Methods Information on cases and deaths was collected using a standard line-list during each week of each meningitis outbreak in 2013 and 2014 in northwest Nigeria. Initial serogroup confirmation was by rapid Pastorex agglutination tests. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples from suspected meningitis patients were sent to the WHO Reference Laboratory in Oslo, where bacterial isolates, serogrouping, antimicrobial sensitivity testing, genotype characterisation and real-time PCR analysis were performed. Results In the most highly affected outbreak areas, all of the 856 and 333 clinically suspected meningitis cases were treated in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Overall attack (AR) and case fatality (CFR) rates were 673/100,000 population and 6.8% in 2013, and 165/100,000 and 10.5% in 2014. Both outbreaks affected small geographical areas of less than 150km2 and populations of less than 210,000, and occurred in neighbouring regions in two adjacent states in the successive years. Initial rapid testing identified NmC as the causative agent. Of the 21 and 17 CSF samples analysed in Oslo, NmC alone was confirmed in 11 and 10 samples in 2013 and 2014, respectively. Samples confirmed as NmC through bacterial culture had sequence type (ST)-10217. Conclusions These are the first recorded outbreaks of NmC in the region since 1979, and the sequence (ST)-10217 has not been identified anywhere else in the world. The outbreaks had similar characteristics to previously recorded NmC outbreaks. Outbreaks of NmC in 2 consecutive years in northern Nigeria indicate a possible emergence of this serogroup. Increased surveillance for multiple serogroups in the region is needed, along with consideration of vaccination with conjugate vaccines rather than for NmA alone.
PMCID: PMC4322033  PMID: 25685621
disease outbreak; infectious disease; meningococcal disease; Neisseria meningitidis; Nigeria
5.  Genomic Analysis of the Evolution and Global Spread of Hyper-invasive Meningococcal Lineage 5 
EBioMedicine  2015;2(3):234-243.
The predominant model for bacterial pandemics is the emergence of a virulent variant that diversifies as it spreads in human populations. We investigated a 40-year meningococcal disease pandemic caused by the hyper-invasive ET-5/ST-32 complex.
A global collection of Neisseria meningitidis isolates dating from 1969 to 2008 was whole genome sequenced (WGS) and analysed using a gene-by-gene approach at
Analysis of WGS data identified a ‘Lineage 5 pan genome’ of 1940 genes, 1752 (92%) of which were present in all isolates (Lineage 5 ‘core genome’). Genetic diversity, which was mostly generated by horizontal gene transfer, was unevenly distributed in the genome; however, genealogical analysis of diverse and conserved core genes, accessory genes, and antigen encoding genes, robustly identified a star phylogeny with a number of sub-lineages. Most European and American isolates belonged to one of two closely related sub-lineages, which had diversified before the identification of the pandemic in the 1970s. A third, genetically more diverse sub-lineage, was associated with Asian isolates. Several isolates had acquired DNA from the related gonococcus.
These data were inconsistent with a single point of origin followed by pandemic spread, rather suggesting that the sub-lineages had diversified and spread by asymptomatic transmission, with multiple distinct strains causing localised hyperendemic outbreaks.
•Genomic analysis of hyper-invasive N. meningitidis lineage 5 distinguishing sub-lineages and localised outbreaks.•Identification of a gonococcal conjugative plasmid consistent with horizontal genetic transfer.•Discovery of a distinct type 4 secretion system previously unidentified in Neisseria.•Gene-by-gene analysis of conserved and diverse loci providing essential tools in serogroup B vaccine development.
PMCID: PMC4430826  PMID: 25984558
Neisseria meningitidis; Serogroup B; Genome sequencing; Evolution
6.  Continuing Effectiveness of Serogroup A Meningococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Chad, 2013 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2015;21(1):115-118.
In 2011, vaccination with a serogroup A meningococcal polysaccharide conjugate vaccine was implemented in 3 of 23 regions in Chad. Cases of meningitis declined dramatically in vaccinated areas, but an epidemic continued in the rest of Chad. In 2012, the remaining Chad population was vaccinated, and the epidemic was halted.
PMCID: PMC4285275  PMID: 25536336
meningitis; meningococcal; serogroup A; vaccine; Africa; bacteria
7.  Persistent low carriage of serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis two years after mass vaccination with the meningococcal conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2014;14:663.
The conjugate vaccine against serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis (NmA), MenAfriVac, is currently being introduced throughout the African meningitis belt. In repeated multicentre cross-sectional studies in Burkina Faso we demonstrated a significant effect of vaccination on NmA carriage for one year following mass vaccination in 2010. A new multicentre carriage study was performed in October-November 2012, two years after MenAfriVac mass vaccination.
Oropharyngeal samples were collected and analysed for presence of N. meningitidis (Nm) from a representative selection of 1-29-year-olds in three districts in Burkina Faso using the same procedures as in previous years. Characterization of Nm isolates included serogrouping, multilocus sequence typing, and porA and fetA sequencing. A small sample of invasive isolates collected during the epidemic season of 2012 through the national surveillance system were also analysed.
From a total of 4964 oropharyngeal samples, overall meningococcal carriage prevalence was 7.86%. NmA prevalence was 0.02% (1 carrier), significantly lower (OR, 0.05, P = 0.005, 95% CI, 0.006-0.403) than pre-vaccination prevalence (0.39%). The single NmA isolate was sequence type (ST)-7, P1.20,9;F3-1, a clone last identified in Burkina Faso in 2003. Nm serogroup W (NmW) dominated with a carriage prevalence of 6.85%, representing 87.2% of the isolates. Of 161 NmW isolates characterized by molecular techniques, 94% belonged to the ST-11 clonal complex and 6% to the ST-175 complex. Nm serogroup X (NmX) was carried by 0.60% of the participants and ST-181 accounted for 97% of the NmX isolates. Carriage prevalence of serogroup Y and non-groupable Nm was 0.20% and 0.18%, respectively. Among the 20 isolates recovered from meningitis cases, NmW dominated (70%), followed by NmX (25%). ST-2859, the only ST with a serogroup A capsule found in Burkina Faso since 2004, was not found with another capsule, neither among carriage nor invasive isolates.
The significant reduction of NmA carriage still persisted two years following MenAfriVac vaccination, and no cases of NmA meningitis were recorded. High carriage prevalence of NmW ST-11 was consistent with the many cases of NmW meningitis in the epidemic season of 2012 and the high proportion of NmW ST-11 among the characterized invasive isolates.
PMCID: PMC4267149  PMID: 25472422
Neisseria meningitidis; Carriage; Meningitis; Burkina Faso; Conjugate vaccine; MLST; Meningitis belt; MenAfriVac; Herd immunity
8.  Evolution of extensively drug-resistant Mycobacterium tuberculosis from a susceptible ancestor in a single patient 
Genome Biology  2014;15(11):490.
Mycobacterium tuberculosis is characterized by a low mutation rate and a lack of genetic recombination. Yet, the rise of extensively resistant strains paints a picture of a microbe with an impressive adaptive potential. Here we describe the first documented case of extensively drug-resistant tuberculosis evolved from a susceptible ancestor within a single patient.
Genome sequences of nine serial M. tuberculosis isolates from the same patient uncovered a dramatic turnover of competing lineages driven by the emergence, and subsequent fixation or loss of single nucleotide polymorphisms. For most drugs, resistance arose through independent emergence of mutations in more than one clone, of which only one ultimately prevailed as the clone carrying it expanded, displacing the other clones in the process. The vast majority of mutations identified over 3.5 years were either involved in drug resistance or hitchhiking in the genetic background of these. Additionally, RNA-sequencing of isolates grown in the absence of drug challenge revealed that the efflux-associated iniBAC operon was up-regulated over time, whereas down-regulated genes include those involved in mycolic acid synthesis.
We observed both rapid acquisitions of resistance to antimicrobial compounds mediated by individual mutations as well as a gradual increase in fitness in the presence of antibiotics, likely driven by stable gene expression reprogramming. The rapid turnover of resistance mutations and hitchhiking neutral mutations has major implications for inferring tuberculosis transmission events in situations where drug resistance evolves within transmission chains.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s13059-014-0490-3) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4223161  PMID: 25418686
9.  Implications of Differential Age Distribution of Disease-Associated Meningococcal Lineages for Vaccine Development 
New vaccines targeting meningococci expressing serogroup B polysaccharide have been developed, with some being licensed in Europe. Coverage depends on the distribution of disease-associated genotypes, which may vary by age. It is well established that a small number of hyperinvasive lineages account for most disease, and these lineages are associated with particular antigens, including vaccine candidates. A collection of 4,048 representative meningococcal disease isolates from 18 European countries, collected over a 3-year period, were characterized by multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Age data were available for 3,147 isolates. The proportions of hyperinvasive lineages, identified as particular clonal complexes (ccs) by MLST, differed among age groups. Subjects <1 year of age experienced lower risk of sequence type 11 (ST-11) cc, ST-32 cc, and ST-269 cc disease and higher risk of disease due to unassigned STs, 1- to 4-year-olds experienced lower risk of ST-11 cc and ST-32 cc disease, 5- to 14-year-olds were less likely to experience ST-11 cc and ST-269 cc disease, and ≥25-year-olds were more likely to experience disease due to less common ccs and unassigned STs. Younger and older subjects were vulnerable to a more diverse set of genotypes, indicating the more clonal nature of genotypes affecting adolescents and young adults. Knowledge of temporal and spatial diversity and the dynamics of meningococcal populations is essential for disease control by vaccines, as coverage is lineage specific. The nonrandom age distribution of hyperinvasive lineages has consequences for the design and implementation of vaccines, as different variants, or perhaps targets, may be required for different age groups.
PMCID: PMC4054250  PMID: 24695776
10.  Multilocus sequence typing and ftsI sequencing: a powerful tool for surveillance of penicillin-binding protein 3-mediated beta-lactam resistance in nontypeable Haemophilus influenzae 
BMC Microbiology  2014;14:131.
Beta-lactam resistance in Haemophilus influenzae due to ftsI mutations causing altered penicillin-binding protein 3 (PBP3) is increasing worldwide. Low-level resistant isolates with the N526K substitution (group II low-rPBP3) predominate in most geographical regions, while high-level resistant isolates with the additional S385T substitution (group III high-rPBP3) are common in Japan and South Korea.
Knowledge about the molecular epidemiology of rPBP3 strains is limited. We combined multilocus sequence typing (MLST) and ftsI/PBP3 typing to study the emergence and spread of rPBP3 in nontypeable H. influenzae (NTHi) in Norway.
The prevalence of rPBP3 in a population of 795 eye, ear and respiratory isolates (99% NTHi) from 2007 was 15%. The prevalence of clinical PBP3-mediated resistance to ampicillin was 9%, compared to 2.5% three years earlier. Group II low-rPBP3 predominated (96%), with significant proportions of isolates non-susceptible to cefotaxime (6%) and meropenem (20%). Group III high-rPBP3 was identified for the first time in Northern Europe.
Four MLST sequence types (ST) with characteristic, highly diverging ftsI alleles accounted for 61% of the rPBP3 isolates. The most prevalent substitution pattern (PBP3 type A) was present in 41% of rPBP3 isolates, mainly carried by ST367 and ST14. Several unrelated STs possessed identical copies of the ftsI allele encoding PBP3 type A.
Infection sites, age groups, hospitalization rates and rPBP3 frequencies differed between STs and phylogenetic groups.
This study is the first to link ftsI alleles to STs in H. influenzae. The results indicate that horizontal gene transfer contributes to the emergence of rPBP3 by phylogeny restricted transformation.
Clonally related virulent rPBP3 strains are widely disseminated and high-level resistant isolates emerge in new geographical regions, threatening current empiric antibiotic treatment. The need of continuous monitoring of beta-lactam susceptibility and a global system for molecular surveillance of rPBP3 strains is underlined. Combining MLST and ftsI/PBP3 typing is a powerful tool for this purpose.
PMCID: PMC4039647  PMID: 24884375
Haemophilus influenzae; Beta-lactam resistance; ftsI; PBP3; BLNAR; MLST; PFGE; Horizontal gene transfer; Recombination; Surveillance
11.  Molecular typing methods for outbreak detection and surveillance of invasive disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae, a review 
Microbiology (Reading, England)  2011;157(0 8):2181-2195.
Invasive disease caused by the encapsulated bacteria Neisseria meningitidis, Haemophilus influenzae and Streptococcus pneumoniae remains an important cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide, despite the introduction of successful conjugate polysaccharide vaccines that target disease-associated strains. In addition, resistance, or more accurately reduced susceptibility, to therapeutic antibiotics is spreading in populations of these organisms. There is therefore a continuing requirement for the surveillance of vaccine and non-vaccine antigens and antibiotic susceptibilities among isolates from invasive disease, which is only partially met by conventional methods. This need can be met with molecular and especially nucleotide sequence-based typing methods, which are fully developed in the case of N. meningitidis and which could be more widely deployed in clinical laboratories for S. pneumoniae and H. influenzae.
PMCID: PMC3980633  PMID: 21622526
12.  Decline in Early Childhood Respiratory Tract Infections in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study after Introduction of Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccination 
The seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) was introduced into the Norwegian Childhood Immunization Program in 2006. A substantial effectiveness of PCV7 immunization against invasive pneumococcal disease has been demonstrated, while evidence of the impact on respiratory tract infections are less consistent.
This study included children participating in the Norwegian Mother and Child Cohort Study, which recruited pregnant women between 1999 and 2008. Maternal report of acute otitis media (AOM), lower respiratory tract infections (LRTIs) and asthma in the child was compared with PCV7 immunization status, as obtained from the Norwegian Immunization Registry. Generalized linear models with the log link function were used to report adjusted relative risks (RR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI).
For children who had received three or more PCV7 immunizations by 12 months of age, the adjusted relative risks of AOM and LRTIs between 12 and 18 months were 0.86 [95% CI: 0.81, 0.91] and 0.78 [95% CI: 0.70, 0.87] respectively, when compared with non-immunized children. A reduced risk of AOM, RR 0.92 [95% CI: 0.90, 0.94], and LRTIs, RR 0.75 [95%CI: 0.71, 0.80], between 18 and 36 months of age was also identified among children who had received 3 or more immunizations by 18 months. No association was seen between PCV7 immunization and asthma at 36 months of age.
Reduced incidence proportions of AOM and LRTIs before 36 months of age were observed among children immunized with PCV7 through the childhood immunization program.
PMCID: PMC3421039  PMID: 22627867
Pneumococcal conjugate vaccination; lower respiratory tract infections; acute otitis media; asthma
13.  Phenotypic and genotypic characterization of meningococcal carriage and disease isolates in Burkina Faso after mass vaccination with a serogroup a conjugate vaccine 
BMC Infectious Diseases  2013;13:363.
The conjugate vaccine against serogroup A Neisseria meningitidis (NmA), MenAfriVac, was first introduced in mass vaccination campaigns of the 1-29-year-olds in Burkina Faso in 2010. The aim of this study was to genetically characterize meningococcal isolates circulating in Burkina Faso before and up to 13 months after MenAfriVac mass vaccination.
A total of 1,659 meningococcal carriage isolates were collected in a repeated cross-sectional carriage study of the 1-29-year-olds in three districts of Burkina Faso in 2010 and 2011, before and up to 13 months after mass vaccination. Forty-two invasive isolates were collected through the national surveillance in Burkina Faso in the same period. All the invasive isolates and 817 carriage isolates were characterized by serogroup, multilocus sequence typing and porA-fetA sequencing.
Seven serogroup A isolates were identified, six in 2010, before vaccination (4 from carriers and 2 from patients), and one in 2011 from an unvaccinated patient; all were assigned to sequence type (ST)-2859 of the ST-5 clonal complex. No NmA carriage isolate and no ST-2859 isolate with another capsule were identified after vaccination. Serogroup X carriage and disease prevalence increased before vaccine introduction, due to the expansion of ST-181, which comprised 48.5% of all the characterized carriage isolates. The hypervirulent serogroup W ST-11 clone that was responsible for most of meningococcal disease in 2011 and 2012 was not observed in 2010; it appeared during the epidemic season of 2011, when it represented 40.6% of the serogroup W carriage isolates.
Successive clonal waves of ST-181 and ST-11 may explain the changing epidemiology in Burkina Faso after the virtual disappearance of NmA disease and carriage. No ST-2859 strain of any serogroup was found after vaccination, suggesting that capsule switching of ST-2859 did not occur, at least not during the first 13 months after vaccination.
PMCID: PMC3750508  PMID: 23914778
Neisseria meningitidis; Carriage; Meningitis; Burkina Faso; Conjugate vaccine; MLST; Meningitis belt
14.  Carriage of Neisseria lactamica in 1- to 29-Year-Old People in Burkina Faso: Epidemiology and Molecular Characterization 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2012;50(12):4020-4027.
Neisseria lactamica is a true commensal bacterium occupying the same ecological niche as the pathogenic Neisseria meningitidis, which is responsible for outbreaks and large epidemics, especially in sub-Saharan Africa. To better understand the epidemiology of N. lactamica in Africa and its relationship to N. meningitidis, we studied N. lactamica carriage in 1- to 29-year-old people living in three districts of Burkina Faso from 2009 to 2011. N. lactamica was detected in 18.2% of 45,847 oropharyngeal samples. Carriage prevalence was highest among the 2-year-olds (40.1%) and decreased with age. Overall prevalence was higher for males (19.1%) than females (17.5%) (odds ratio [OR], 1.11; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.04 to 1.18), while among the 18- to 29-year-olds, carriage prevalence was significantly higher in women (9.1%) than in men (3.9%) (OR, 2.49; 95% CI, 1.94 to 3.19). Carriage prevalence of N. lactamica was remarkably homogeneous in the three districts of Burkina Faso and stable over time, in comparison with carriage of N. meningitidis (P. A. Kristiansen et al., Clin. Vaccine Immunol. 18:435–443, 2011). There was no significant seasonal variation of N. lactamica carriage and no significant change in carriage prevalence after introduction of the serogroup A meningococcal conjugate vaccine, MenAfriVac. Multilocus sequence typing was performed on a selection of 142 isolates. The genetic diversity was high, as we identified 62 different genotypes, of which 56 were new. The epidemiology of N. lactamica carriage and the molecular characteristics of carried isolates were similar to those reported from industrialized countries, in contrast to the particularities of N. meningitidis carriage and disease epidemiology in Burkina Faso.
PMCID: PMC3503018  PMID: 23035186
15.  Interlaboratory Standardization of the Sandwich Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay Designed for MATS, a Rapid, Reproducible Method for Estimating the Strain Coverage of Investigational Vaccines 
Clinical and Vaccine Immunology : CVI  2012;19(10):1609-1617.
The meningococcal antigen typing system (MATS) sandwich enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) was designed to measure the immunologic cross-reactivity and quantity of antigens in target strains of a pathogen. It was first used to measure the factor H-binding protein (fHbp), neisserial adhesin A (NadA), and neisserial heparin-binding antigen (NHBA) content of serogroup B meningococcal (MenB) isolates relative to a reference strain, or “relative potency” (RP). With the PorA genotype, the RPs were then used to assess strain coverage by 4CMenB, a multicomponent MenB vaccine. In preliminary studies, MATS accurately predicted killing in the serum bactericidal assay using human complement, an accepted correlate of protection for meningococcal vaccines. A study across seven laboratories assessed the reproducibility of RPs for fHbp, NadA, and NHBA and established qualification parameters for new laboratories. RPs were determined in replicate for 17 MenB reference strains at laboratories A to G. The reproducibility of RPs among laboratories and against consensus values across laboratories was evaluated using a mixed-model analysis of variance. Interlaboratory agreement was very good; the Pearson correlation coefficients, coefficients of accuracy, and concordance correlation coefficients exceeded 99%. The summary measures of reproducibility, expressed as between-laboratory coefficients of variation, were 7.85% (fHbp), 16.51% (NadA), and 12.60% (NHBA). The overall within-laboratory measures of variation adjusted for strain and laboratory were 19.8% (fHbp), 28.8% (NHBA), and 38.3% (NadA). The MATS ELISA was successfully transferred to six laboratories, and a further laboratory was successfully qualified.
PMCID: PMC3485892  PMID: 22875603
16.  Molecular Characterization of Invasive Meningococcal Isolates from Countries in the African Meningitis Belt before Introduction of a Serogroup A Conjugate Vaccine 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(9):e46019.
The serogroup A conjugate meningococcal vaccine, MenAfriVac, was introduced in mass vaccination campaigns in December 2010 in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. In the coming years, vaccination will be extended to other African countries at risk of epidemics. To document the molecular characteristics of disease-causing meningococcal strains circulating in the meningitis belt of Africa before vaccine introduction, the World Health Organization Collaborating Centers on Meningococci in Europe and United States established a common strain collection of 773 isolates from cases of invasive meningococcal disease collected between 2004 and 2010 from 13 sub-Saharan countries.
All isolates were characterized by multilocus sequence typing, and 487 (62%) were also analyzed for genetic variation in the surface antigens PorA and FetA. Antibiotic susceptibility was tested for part of the collection.
Principal Findings
Only 19 sequence types (STs) belonging to 6 clonal complexes were revealed. ST-5 clonal complex dominated with 578 (74.8%) isolates. All ST-5 complex isolates were remarkably homogeneous in their PorA (P1.20,9) and FetA (F3-1) and characterized the serogroup A strains which have been responsible for most epidemics during this time period. Sixty-eight (8.8%) of the 773 isolates belonged to the ST-11 clonal complex which was mainly represented by serogroup W135, while an additional 38 (4.9%) W135 isolates belonged to the ST-175 complex. Forty-eight (6.2%) serogroup X isolates from West Africa belonged to the ST-181 complex, while serogroup X cases in Kenya and Uganda were caused by an unrelated clone, ST-5403. Serogroup X, ST-181, emerged in Burkina Faso before vaccine introduction.
In the seven years preceding introduction of a new serogroup A conjugate vaccine, serogroup A of the ST-5 clonal complex was identified as the predominant disease-causing strain.
PMCID: PMC3459830  PMID: 23029368
17.  Postvaccination Increase in Serotype 19A Pneumococcal Disease in Norway Is Driven by Expansion of Penicillin-Susceptible Strains of the ST199 Complex 
Serotype replacement in invasive pneumococcal disease has been observed after widespread use of the 7-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7). Replacement is dominated by penicillin-nonsusceptible serotype 19A in several countries. Antibiotic selection pressure has been proposed to interact with immunization, leading to rapid replacement. In Norway, where prescription of antibiotics is limited, post-PCV7 replacement by serotype 19A is dominated by penicillin-susceptible clones. Hence, serotype 19A replacement occurs, although it is not driven by antibiotic selection pressure.
PMCID: PMC3294600  PMID: 22237889
18.  Meningococcal Factor H Binding Proteins in Epidemic Strains from Africa: Implications for Vaccine Development 
Factor H binding protein (fHbp) is an important antigen for vaccines against meningococcal serogroup B disease. The protein binds human factor H (fH), which enables the bacteria to resist serum bactericidal activity. Little is known about the vaccine-potential of fHbp for control of meningococcal epidemics in Africa, which typically are caused by non-group B strains.
Methodology/Principal Findings
We investigated genes encoding fHbp in 106 serogroup A, W-135 and X case isolates from 17 African countries. We determined complement-mediated bactericidal activity of antisera from mice immunized with recombinant fHbp vaccines, or a prototype native outer membrane vesicle (NOMV) vaccine from a serogroup B mutant strain with over-expressed fHbp. Eighty-six of the isolates (81%) had one of four prevalent fHbp sequence variants, ID 4/5 (serogroup A isolates), 9 (W-135), or 74 (X) in variant group 1, or ID 22/23 (W-135) in variant group 2. More than one-third of serogroup A isolates and two-thirds of W-135 isolates tested had low fHbp expression while all X isolates tested had intermediate or high expression. Antisera to the recombinant fHbp vaccines were generally bactericidal only against isolates with fHbp sequence variants that closely matched the respective vaccine ID. Low fHbp expression also contributed to resistance to anti-fHbp bactericidal activity. In contrast to the recombinant vaccines, the NOMV fHbp ID 1 vaccine elicited broad anti-fHbp bactericidal activity, and the antibodies had greater ability to inhibit binding of fH to fHbp than antibodies elicited by the control recombinant fHbp ID 1 vaccine.
NOMV vaccines from mutants with increased fHbp expression elicit an antibody repertoire with greater bactericidal activity than recombinant fHbp vaccines. NOMV vaccines are promising for prevention of meningococcal disease in Africa and could be used to supplement coverage conferred by a serogroup A polysaccharide-protein conjugate vaccine recently introduced in some sub-Saharan countries.
Author Summary
Epidemics of meningococcal meningitis are common in sub-Saharan Africa. Most are caused by encapsulated serogroup A strains, which rarely cause disease in industrialized countries. A serogroup A polysaccharide protein conjugate vaccine recently was introduced in some countries in sub-Saharan Africa. The antibodies induced, however, may allow replacement of serogroup A strains with serogroup W-135 or X strains, which also cause epidemics in this region. Protein antigens, such as factor H binding protein (fHbp), are promising for prevention of meningococcal serogroup B disease. These proteins also are present in strains with other capsular serogroups. Here we report investigation of the potential of fHbp vaccines for prevention of disease caused by serogroup A, W-135 and X strains from Africa. Four fHbp amino acid sequence variants accounted for 81% of the 106 African isolates studied. While there was little cross-protective activity by antibodies elicited in mice by recombinant fHbp vaccines from each of the four sequence variants, a prototype native outer membrane vesicle (NOMV) vaccine from a mutant with over-expressed fHbp elicited antibodies with broad protective activity. A NOMV vaccine has the potential to supplement coverage by the group A conjugate vaccine and help prevent emergence of disease caused by non-serogroup A strains.
PMCID: PMC3167780  PMID: 21909444
19.  Baseline Meningococcal Carriage in Burkina Faso before the Introduction of a Meningococcal Serogroup A Conjugate Vaccine▿  
The serogroup A meningococcal conjugate vaccine MenAfriVac has the potential to confer herd immunity by reducing carriage prevalence of epidemic strains. To better understand this phenomenon, we initiated a meningococcal carriage study to determine the baseline carriage rate and serogroup distribution before vaccine introduction in the 1- to 29-year old population in Burkina Faso, the group chosen for the first introduction of the vaccine. A multiple cross-sectional carriage study was conducted in one urban and two rural districts in Burkina Faso in 2009. Every 3 months, oropharyngeal samples were collected from >5,000 randomly selected individuals within a 4-week period. Isolation and identification of the meningococci from 20,326 samples were performed by national laboratories in Burkina Faso. Confirmation and further strain characterization, including genogrouping, multilocus sequence typing, and porA-fetA sequencing, were performed in Norway. The overall carriage prevalence for meningococci was 3.98%; the highest prevalence was among the 15- to 19-year-olds for males and among the 10- to 14-year-olds for females. Serogroup Y dominated (2.28%), followed by serogroups X (0.44%), A (0.39%), and W135 (0.34%). Carriage prevalence was the highest in the rural districts and in the dry season, but serogroup distribution also varied by district. A total of 29 sequence types (STs) and 51 porA-fetA combinations were identified. The dominant clone was serogroup Y, ST-4375, P1.5-1,2-2/F5-8, belonging to the ST-23 complex (47%). All serogroup A isolates were ST-2859 of the ST-5 complex with P1.20,9/F3-1. This study forms a solid basis for evaluating the impact of MenAfriVac introduction on serogroup A carriage.
PMCID: PMC3067389  PMID: 21228139
20.  Streptococcus pyogenes Isolates Causing Severe Infections in Norway in 2006 to 2007: emm Types, Multilocus Sequence Types, and Superantigen Profiles ▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2009;48(3):842-851.
To investigate the epidemiological patterns and genetic characteristics of disease caused by group A Streptococcus (GAS), all available isolates from invasive cases in Norway during 2006 to 2007 (262 isolates) were subjected to antimicrobial susceptibility testing, T serotyping, emm typing, and multilocus sequence typing and screened for known streptococcal pyrogenic exotoxin (Spe) genes, smeZ, and ssa. The average incidence rate was 3.1 cases per 100,000 individuals. The most prevalent sequence types (STs) were STs 52, 28, and 334. In association with emm types 28, 77, and 87, the serotype T-28 comprised 24.8% of the strains. emm types 28, 1, and 82 were dominating. In 2007, a sharp increase in the number of emm-6 strains was noted. All strains were sensitive to penicillin and quinupristin-dalfopristin, while 3.4% and 6.1% of the strains were resistant to macrolides and tetracycline, respectively. Furthermore, the emm-6 strains had intermediate susceptibility to ofloxacin. Isolates displayed a wide variety of gene profiles, as shown by the presence or absence of the Spe genes, smeZ, and ssa, but 48% of the isolates fell into one of three profiles. In most cases, an emm type was restricted to one gene profile. Although the incidence decreased during this study, invasive GAS disease still has a high endemic rate, with involvement of both established and emerging emm types displaying variability in virulence gene profiles as well as differences in gender and age group preferences.
PMCID: PMC2832411  PMID: 20042624
21.  Impact of a Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccination Program on Carriage among Children in Norway▿  
In July 2006, the seven-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV7) was introduced in Norway with a reduced (2 doses + 1 boost) dose schedule. Post-PCV7 shifts in pneumococcal reservoirs were assessed by two point prevalence studies of nasopharyngeal colonization among children in day care centers, before (2006) and after (2008) widespread use of PCV7. Nasopharyngeal swabs were obtained from 1,213 children, 611 in 2006 and 602 in 2008. A total of 1,102 pneumococcal isolates were recovered. Serotyping, multilocus sequence typing, and antimicrobial drug susceptibility testing were performed on all isolates. Although carriage of PCV7 serotypes decreased among both vaccinated and unvaccinated children, the overall prevalence of pneumococcal carriage remained high (80.4%) after vaccine introduction. The pneumococcal populations were diverse, and in the shift toward non-PCV7 serotypes, expansion of a limited number of established clonal complexes was observed. While non-antimicrobial-susceptible clones persisted among PCV7 serotypes, antimicrobial resistance did not increase among non-PCV7 serotypes. Direct and indirect protection of PCV7 against nasopharyngeal colonization was inferred from an overall decrease in carriage of PCV7 serotypes. No preference was found for nonsusceptible clones among the replacing non-PCV7 serotypes.
PMCID: PMC2837970  PMID: 20107006
22.  Meningitis Dipstick Rapid Test: Evaluating Diagnostic Performance during an Urban Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup A Outbreak, Burkina Faso, 2007 
PLoS ONE  2010;5(6):e11086.
Meningococcal meningitis outbreaks occur every year during the dry season in the “meningitis belt” of sub-Saharan Africa. Identification of the causative strain is crucial before launching mass vaccination campaigns, to assure use of the correct vaccine. Rapid agglutination (latex) tests are most commonly available in district-level laboratories at the beginning of the epidemic season; limitations include a short shelf-life and the need for refrigeration and good technical skills. Recently, a new dipstick rapid diagnostic test (RDT) was developed to identify and differentiate disease caused by meningococcal serogroups A, W135, C and Y. We evaluated the diagnostic performance of this dipstick RDT during an urban outbreak of meningitis caused by N. meningitidis serogroup A in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso; first against an in-country reference standard of culture and/or multiplex PCR; and second against culture and/or a highly sensitive nested PCR technique performed in Oslo, Norway. We included 267 patients with suspected acute bacterial meningitis. Using the in-country reference standard, 50 samples (19%) were positive. Dipstick RDT sensitivity (N = 265) was 70% (95%CI 55–82) and specificity 97% (95%CI 93–99). Using culture and/or nested PCR, 126/259 (49%) samples were positive; dipstick RDT sensitivity (N = 257) was 32% (95%CI 24–41), and specificity was 99% (95%CI 95–100). We found dipstick RDT sensitivity lower than values reported from (i) assessments under ideal laboratory conditions (>90%), and (ii) a prior field evaluation in Niger [89% (95%CI 80–95)]. Specificity, however, was similar to (i), and higher than (ii) [62% (95%CI 48–75)]. At this stage in development, therefore, other tests (e.g., latex) might be preferred for use in peripheral health centres. We highlight the value of field evaluations for new diagnostic tests, and note relatively low sensitivity of a reference standard using multiplex vs. nested PCR. Although the former is the current standard for bacterial meningitis surveillance in the meningitis belt, nested PCR performed in a certified laboratory should be used as an absolute reference when evaluating new diagnostic tests.
PMCID: PMC2884039  PMID: 20552035
23.  Field Evaluation of Two Rapid Diagnostic Tests for Neisseria meningitidis Serogroup A during the 2006 Outbreak in Niger 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(10):e7326.
The Pastorex® (BioRad) rapid agglutination test is one of the main rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) for meningococcal disease currently in use in the “meningitis belt”. Earlier evaluations, performed after heating and centrifugation of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) samples, under good laboratory conditions, showed high sensitivity and specificity. However, during an epidemic, the test may be used without prior sample preparation. Recently a new, easy-to-use dipstick RDT for meningococcal disease detection on CSF was developed by the Centre de Recherche Médicale et Sanitaire in Niger and the Pasteur Institute in France. We estimate diagnostic accuracy in the field during the 2006 outbreak of Neisseria meningitidis serogroup A in Maradi, Niger, for the dipstick RDT and Pastorex® on unprepared CSF, (a) by comparing each test's sensitivity and specificity with previously reported values; and (b) by comparing results for each test on paired samples, using McNemar's test. We also (c) estimate diagnostic accuracy of the dipstick RDT on diluted whole blood. We tested unprepared CSF and diluted whole blood from 126 patients with suspected meningococcal disease presenting at four health posts. (a) Pastorex® sensitivity (69%; 95%CI 57–79) was significantly lower than found previously for prepared CSF samples [87% (81–91); or 88% (85–91)], as was specificity [81% (95%CI 68–91) vs 93% (90–95); or 93% (87–96)]. Sensitivity of the dipstick RDT [89% (95%CI 80–95)] was similar to previously reported values for ideal laboratory conditions [89% (84–93) and 94% (90–96)]. Specificity, at 62% (95%CI 48–75), was significantly lower than found previously [94% (92–96) and 97% (94–99)]. (b) McNemar's test for the dipstick RDT vs Pastorex® was statistically significant (p<0.001). (c) The dipstick RDT did not perform satisfactorily on diluted whole blood (sensitivity 73%; specificity 57%).
Sensitivity and specificity of Pastorex® without prior CSF preparation were poorer than previously reported results from prepared samples; therefore we caution against using this test during an epidemic if sample preparation is not possible. For the dipstick RDT, sensitivity was similar to, while specificity was not as high as previously reported during a more stable context. Further studies are needed to evaluate its field performance, especially for different populations and other serogroups.
PMCID: PMC2752163  PMID: 19802392
24.  Antibiotic Susceptibility and Characteristics of Neisseria meningitidis Isolates from the African Meningitis Belt, 2000 to 2006: Phenotypic and Genotypic Perspectives▿  
Up-to-date information regarding the antibiotic susceptibility of Neisseria meningitidis strains from African countries is highly limited. Our aim was to comprehensively describe the antibiotic susceptibilities of a selection of N. meningitidis isolates recovered between 2000 and 2006 from 18 African countries, mainly those within the meningitis belt. Susceptibilities to 11 antibiotics were determined using Etest for 137 N. meningitidis isolates (stringently selected from 693 available isolates). The isolates were also characterized by serogrouping, multilocus sequence typing, genosubtyping, and penA allele identification. All N. meningitidis isolates were susceptible to ceftriaxone, chloramphenicol, and ciprofloxacin. No isolate produced β-lactamase. Only three isolates (2%) displayed reduced susceptibility to penicillin G. The two isolates with the highest penicillin G MICs were the only isolates showing reduced susceptibility to ampicillin and cefuroxime. One of these isolates was also resistant to penicillin V. One percent of isolates displayed reduced susceptibility to rifampin, while 52% of the isolates were resistant to tetracycline, 74% were resistant to erythromycin, and 94% were resistant to sulfadiazine. The MICs of rifampin and tetracycline seemed to be associated with the serogroup of the isolates. In total, 18 sequence types (STs), 10 genosubtypes, and 8 different penA alleles were identified; the most common were ST-7, P1.20,9,35-1, and penA4, respectively. A high level of correlation was found between ST, genosubtype, and penA allele. In conclusion, N. meningitidis isolates from the African meningitis belt remain highly susceptible to the antibiotics used. Regarding β-lactam antibiotics, rare isolates showed a reduced susceptibility to penicillins, but the expanded-spectrum cephalosporins are not affected at present.
PMCID: PMC2663058  PMID: 19188396
25.  Meningococcal carriage and disease—Population biology and evolution 
Vaccine  2009;27(4):B64-B70.
Meningococcal disease occurs worldwide with incidence rates varying from 1 to 1000 cases per 100,000. The causative organism, Neisseria meningitidis, is an obligate commensal of humans, which normally colonizes the mucosa of the upper respiratory tract without causing invasive disease, a phenomenon known as carriage. Studies using molecular methods have demonstrated the extensive genetic diversity of meningocococci isolated from carriers, in contrast to a limited number of genetic types, known as the hyperinvasive lineages, associated with invasive disease. Population and evolutionary models that invoke positive selection can be used to resolve the apparent paradox of virulent lineages persisting during the global spread of a non-clonal and normally commensal bacterium. The application of insights gained from studies of meningococcal population biology and evolution is important in understanding the spread of disease, as well as in vaccine development and implementation, especially with regard to the challenge of producing comprehensive vaccines based on sub-capsular antigens and measuring their effectiveness.
PMCID: PMC2719693  PMID: 19464092
Meningococcal disease; Carriage; Population structure

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