Meningococcal carriage among Georgia and Maryland high school students

Lee H. Harrison, Kathleen A. Shutt, Kathryn E. Arnold, Eric J. Stern, Tracy Pondo, Julia A. Kiehlbauch, Robert A. Myers, Rosemary A. Hollick, Susanna Schmink, Marianne Vello, David S. Stephens, Nancy E. Messonnier, Leonard W. Mayer, Thomas A. Clark

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Background. Meningococcal disease incidence in the United States is at an all-time low. In a previous study of Georgia high school students, meningococcal carriage prevalence was 7%. The purpose of this study was to measure the impact of a meningococcal conjugate vaccine on serogroup Y meningococcal carriage and to define the dynamics of carriage in high school students. Methods. This was a prospective cohort study at 8 high schools, 4 each in Maryland and Georgia, during a school year. Students at participating schools received quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine that uses diphtheria toxoid as the protein carrier (MCV4-DT). In each state, 2 high schools were randomly assigned for MCV4-DT receipt by students at the beginning of the study, and 2 were randomly assigned for MCV4-DT receipt at the end. Oropharyngeal swab cultures for meningococcal carriage were performed 3 times during the school year. Results. Among 3311 students, the prevalence of meningococcal carriage was 3.21%-4.01%. Phenotypically nongroupable strains accounted for 88% of carriage isolates. There were only 5 observed acquisitions of serogroup Y strains during the study; therefore, the impact of MCV4-DT on meningococcal carriage could not be determined. Conclusions. Meningococcal carriage rates in US high school students were lower than expected, and the vast majority of strains did not express capsule. These findings may help explain the historically low incidence of meningococcal disease in the United States.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1761-1768
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2015


  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • high school students
  • meningococcal
  • meningococcal conjugate vaccine
  • meningococcus
  • oropharyngeal carriage

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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