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Invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup Y has increased in Europe, especially in Scandinavia. In Sweden, serogroup Y is now the dominating serogroup, and in 2012, the serogroup Y disease incidence was 0.46/100,000 population. We previously showed that a strain type belonging to sequence type 23 was responsible for the increased prevalence of this serogroup in Sweden. The objective of this study was to investigate the serogroup Y emergence by whole-genome sequencing and compare the meningococcal population structure of Swedish invasive serogroup Y strains to those of other countries with different IMD incidence. Whole-genome sequencing was performed on invasive serogroup Y isolates from 1995 to 2012 in Sweden (n = 186). These isolates were compared to a collection of serogroup Y isolates from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland from 2010 to 2012 (n = 143), which had relatively low serogroup Y incidence, and two isolates obtained in 1999 in the United States, where serogroup Y remains one of the major causes of IMD. The meningococcal population structures were similar in the investigated regions; however, different strain types were prevalent in each geographic region. A number of genes known or hypothesized to have an impact on meningococcal virulence were shown to be associated with different strain types and subtypes. The reasons for the IMD increase are multifactorial and are influenced by increased virulence, host adaptive immunity, and transmission. Future genome-wide association studies are needed to reveal additional genes associated with serogroup Y meningococcal disease, and this work would benefit from a complete serogroup Y meningococcal reference genome.

Original publication




Journal article


J Clin Microbiol

Publication Date





2154 - 2162


Communicable Diseases, Emerging, Genetic Variation, Genome, Bacterial, Humans, Meningococcal Infections, Molecular Epidemiology, Molecular Sequence Data, Neisseria meningitidis, Serogroup Y, Phylogeography, Sequence Analysis, DNA, Sweden