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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 13, Issue 6, Pages 391-396
Original Article

Distribution of Serogroups of Neisseria meningitidis and Antigenic Characterization of Serogroup Y Meningococci in Canada, January 1, 1999 to June 30, 2001

Raymond SW Tsang,1 Susan G Squires,2 Wendell D Zollinger,3 and Fraser E Ashton1

1CNS Infection Division, National Microbiology Laboratory, Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada
2Division of Respiratory Diseases, Bureau of Infectious Disease, Population and Public Health Branch, Health Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
3Department of Bacterial Diseases, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, District of Columbia, USA

Received 4 September 2001; Revised 24 June 2002

Copyright © 2002 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The relative frequency of serogroups of Neisseria meningitidis associated with meningococcal disease in Canada during the period January 1, 1999 to June 30, 2001 was examined. Of the 552 strains of N meningitidis collected from clinical specimens of normally sterile sites, 191 (34.6%), 276 (50.0%), 61 (11.1%) and 23 (4.2%) were identified by serological and molecular methods as serogroups B, C, Y and W135, respectively. About half (50.8%) of the serogroup Y isolates were isolated in the province of Ontario. The two most common serotypes found were 2c and 14. Most of the serogroup Y strains isolated from patients in Ontario were serotype 2c, while serotype 14 was the most common serotype associated with disease in the province of Quebec. The two most common serosubtypes found among the serogroup Y meningococci were P1.5 and P1.2,5. Laboratory findings, based on antigenic analysis, did not suggest that these serogroup Y strains arise by capsule switching from serogroups B and C strains. This study documented a higher incidence of finding serogroup Y meningococci in clinical specimens from patients in Ontario compared to the rest of Canada, and parallels the increase in serogroup Y meningococcal disease reported in some parts of the United States.