Characterization of oropharyngeal carriage isolates of Neisseria meningitidis in healthy Korean adolescents in 2015

Han Wool Kim, Soyoung Lee, Daeho Kwon, Jihei Cha, Jong Gyun Ahn, Kyung Hyo Kim

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12 Scopus citations


The meningococcus carriage rate is age-dependent, with a high prevalence in adolescents and young adults. This cross-sectional study aimed to estimate the oropharyngeal carriage rate of meningococcus among healthy Korean adolescents and its relationship with several population characteristics. The survey was conducted from April to May 2015 among 1,460 first-year high-school students in 9 high schools located in Gyeonggi province, Korea. Each student answered a short questionnaire assessing risk factors for carriage, and posterior pharyngeal wall swab samples were obtained. These samples were cultured on meningococcus-selective media, with colonies resembling meningococci identified using the Vitek® MS system (bioMérieux, Marcy l'Etoile, France). All isolates were characterized by molecular serogrouping and multilocus sequence typing (MLST). Meningococci were identified from 3.4% (49/1,460) swabs. Current smokers had significantly higher carriage rates than non-smokers (8.2% vs. 2.9%, P = 0.002), and boys had significantly higher carriage rates than girls (4.4% vs. 1.6%, P = 0.004). Serogroup B was the most common serogroup, followed by serogroup C, then 29E and Y. Twenty-seven different sequence types (STs) were identified; the most common were ST-3091, ST-11278, and ST-44. These belonged to clonal complexes (CCs) 269, 32, and 41/44, respectively, known as the hypervirulent clones. Evaluating meningococcal carriage is important to understand the epidemiology of meningococcal disease; however, little data exist in Korea. Similar to western countries, meningococcal serogroup B has emerged in Korea, and hypervirulent clones were identified. It is necessary to monitor the genetic and serologic characteristics of circulating meningococci and to assess the potential strain coverage of meningococcal vaccines.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1111-1117
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Korean Medical Science
Issue number7
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2017


  • Adolescents
  • Carrier state
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Serogroup B


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