European Journal of Epidemiology

, Volume 17, Issue 9, pp 877–884 | Cite as

Carriers of Neisseria meningitidis in household contacts of meningococcal disease cases in Catalonia (Spain)

  • N. Cardeñosa
  • A. Domínguez
  • A. Orcau
  • H. Pañella
  • P. Godoy
  • S. Minguell
  • N. Camps
  • J.A. Vázquez


A population-based study was carried out in Catalonia (Spain) from May 1998 to April 1999 to determine the prevalence of Neisseria meningitidis strains in meningococcal disease (MD) cases and their contacts, as well as the prevalence of meningococci in close contacts of patients with MD, and risk factors for its carriage. A total of 364 close contacts of 87 patients with MD were studied. Throat samples were collected by hospital staff before rifampicin chemoprophylaxis was begun. For each contact, a questionnaire was completed for sociodemographic and epidemiological data. A total of 61 contacts (an overall prevalence of 16.8%) were carriers of meningococcal strains (40 B, 10 C, 1 Z and 10 non-groupable isolates). This prevalence is two to three times higher than in the general population (5–10%). In 33/61 microbiologically confirmed cases (54%) and in 9/26 probable cases (35%), contacts carrying N. meningitidis were found. In 22/33 confirmed cases with carrier contacts, it was possible to study the phenotype of the carrier and patient strains (serogroup, serotype and serosubtype). In 14 cases (64%), both strains were identical, in four cases, only a minor change was observed, in three cases, some strain (from the case or from his contact) was non-serotypable and non-serosubtypable, and in one case, both isolates were completely different. Bivariate analysis identified five statistically significant risk factors for meningococcal carriage: age (5–9 years old), meningococcal A + C vaccination, severe household overcrowding, social class and heavy active smoking (>20 cigarettes a day). Multivariate analysis revealed that of these five variables, only heavy active smoking remained statistically significant when the other factors were controlled.

Household contact Meningococcal carriage N. meningitides Risk factors 


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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 2001

Authors and Affiliations

  • N. Cardeñosa
    • 1
  • A. Domínguez
    • 1
  • A. Orcau
    • 2
  • H. Pañella
    • 3
  • P. Godoy
    • 4
  • S. Minguell
    • 5
  • N. Camps
    • 6
  • J.A. Vázquez
    • 7
  1. 1.Public HealthGeneralitat de CatalunyaSpain
  2. 2.Territorial Delegation of HealthBarcelonaSpain
  3. 3.Municipal Institute of HealthBarcelonaSpain
  4. 4.Territorial Delegation of HealthLleidaSpain
  5. 5.Territorial Delegation of HealthTarragonaSpain
  6. 6.Territorial Delegation of HealthGironaSpain
  7. 7.Reference Laboratory for Neisseria, CNMVISInstituto Carlos III. MajadahondaMadridSpain

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