Neisseria meningitidis serogroup B (MnB) was responsible for two independent meningococcal disease outbreaks at universities in the USA during 2013. The first at University A in New Jersey included nine confirmed cases reported between March 2013 and March 2014. The second outbreak occurred at University B in California, with four confirmed cases during November 2013. The public health response to these outbreaks included the approval and deployment of a serogroup B meningococcal vaccine that was not yet licensed in the USA. This study investigated the use of whole-genome sequencing(WGS) to examine the genetic profile of the disease-causing outbreak isolates at each university. Comparative WGS revealed differences in evolutionary patterns between the two disease outbreaks. The University A outbreak isolates were very closely related, with differences primarily attributed to single nucleotide polymorphisms/insertion-deletion (SNP/indel) events. In contrast, the University B outbreak isolates segregated into two phylogenetic clades, differing in large part due to recombination events covering extensive regions (>30?kb) of the genome including virulence factors. This high-resolution comparison of two meningococcal disease outbreaks further demonstrates the genetic complexity of meningococcal bacteria as related to evolution and disease virulence.
Journal: Microbial genomics