cgMLST characterisation of invasive Neisseria meningitidis serogroup C and W strains associated with increasing disease incidence in the Republic of Ireland.
Mulhall RM., Bennett DE., Bratcher HB., Jolley KA., Bray JE., O'Lorcain PP., Cotter SM., Maiden MCJ., Cunney RJ.
INTRODUCTION AND AIMS: Since 2013 MenC and MenW disease incidence and associated mortality rates have increased in the Republic of Ireland. From 2002/2003 to 2012/2013, the average annual MenC incidence was 0.08/100,000, which increased to 0.34/100,000 during 2013/2014 to 2017/18, peaking in 2016/17 (0.72/100,000) with an associated case fatality rate (CFR) of 14.7%. MenW disease incidence has increased each year from 0.02/100,000 in 2013/2014, to 0.29/100,000 in 2017/18, with an associated CFR of 28.6%. We aimed to characterise and relate recent MenC isolates to the previously prevalent MenC:cc11 ET-15 clones, and also characterise and relate recent MenW isolates to the novel 'Hajj' clones. METHODS: Using WGS we characterised invasive (n = 74, 1997/98 to 2016/17) and carried (n = 16, 2016/17) MenC isolates, and invasive (n = 18, 2010/11 to 2016/17) and carried (n = 15, 2016/17) MenW isolates. Genomes were assembled using VelvethOptimiser and stored on the PubMLST Neisseria Bacterial Isolate Genome Sequence Database. Isolates were compared using the cgMLST approach. RESULTS: Most MenC and MenW isolates identified were cc11. A single MenC:cc11 sub-lineage contained the majority (68%, n = 19/28) of recent MenC:cc11 disease isolates and all carried MenC:cc11 isolates, which were interspersed and distinct from the historically significant ET-15 clones. MenW:cc11 study isolates clustered among international examples of both the original UK 2009 MenW:cc11, and novel 2013 MenW:cc11clones. CONCLUSIONS: We have shown that the majority of recent MenC disease incidence was caused by strain types distinct from the MenC:cc11 ET-15 clone of the late 1990s, which still circulate but have caused only sporadic disease in recent years. We have identified that the same aggressive MenW clone now established in several other European countries, is endemic in the RoI and responsible for the recent MenW incidence increases. This data informed the National immunisation Advisory Committee, who are currently deliberating a vaccine policy change to protect teenagers.