Seroprevalence of bactericidal antibodies against serogroup B and C Meningococci in a University Hospital

Meningococcus serogroup B (MenB), clonal complex 32 (cc 32), was the Brazilian epidemic strain of meningococcal disease (MD) in the 1990’s. Currently, meningococcus serogroup C (MenC), cc 103, is responsible for most of the cases of the disease in Brazil. The aim of this study was to investigate the seroprevalence of bactericidal antibody (SBA) against representative epidemic strains of MenC, (N753/00 strain, C:23:P1.22,14-6, cc103) and MenB, (Cu385/83 strain, B:4,7:P1.15,19, cc32) in students and employees of a university hospital in the State of Rio Grande do Sul (RS, Brazil). A second MenC strain (N79/96, C:2b:P1.5-2,10, cc 8) was used as a prototype strain of Rio de Janeiro’s outbreak that occurred in the 1990’s. Our previous study showed a 9% rate of asymptomatic carriers in these same individuals. A second goal was to compare the SBA prevalence in meningococcal carriers and non-carriers. Fifty-nine percent of the studied population showed protective levels of SBA titers (log2≥2) against at least one of the three strains. About 40% of the individuals had protective levels of SBA against N753/00 and Cu385/83 strains. Nonetheless, only 22% of the individuals showed protective levels against N79/96 strain. Significantly higher antibody levels were seen in carriers compared to non-carriers (P≤0.009). This study showed that, similar to other States in Brazil, a MenC (23:P1.22,14-6, cc103) strain with epidemic potential is circulating in this hospital. Close control by the Epidemiological Surveillance Agency of RS of the number of cases of MD caused by MenC strains in the State is recommended to prevent a new disease outbreak.