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Meningococcal disease at the University of Southampton: outbreak investigation

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 October 1999

A. GILMORE
Affiliation:
Portsmouth and South East Hampshire Health Authority, Milton Road, Portsmouth PO3 6DP
G. JONES
Affiliation:
Public Health Laboratory, Southampton General Hospital, Southampton SO16 6YD
M. BARKER
Affiliation:
Southampton and South West Hampshire Health Authority, Oakley Road, Southampton SO16 4GX
N. SOLTANPOOR
Affiliation:
Public Health Laboratory Service, Statistics Unit, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW6 5EQ
J. M. STUART
Affiliation:
Public Health Laboratory Service, Communicable Disease Surveillance Centre South and West, Gloucestershire Royal Hospital, Gloucester GL1 3NN
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Abstract

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In October 1997, an outbreak of meningococcal disease occurred at the University of Southampton. All six cases were first year students living in halls of residence. Microbiological characterization of case and carrier strains, case interviews, and a meningococcal carriage prevalence survey were used to investigate the outbreak. Five cases were due to serogroup C strains, one case was unconfirmed. Serotyping did not distinguish between the strains but gene sequencing permitted identification of two distinct strains in the outbreak. Although none of the cases was known to each other, three had attended the same nightclub one evening 3–4 days before illness. Meningococcal carriage rates in undergraduates were within the range expected (147/587, 25%), but no carriers of outbreak strains were identified in this sample. The findings suggest that in communities with a high degree of social interaction, the introduction of highly virulent meningococcal strains may result in enhanced transmission with clustering of cases.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
© 1999 Cambridge University Press
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