Genomic Surveillance of Invasive Meningococcal Disease During a National MenW Outbreak in Australia, 2017-2018

Emily Sotheran, Courtney R. Lane, Kristy Horan, Kerrie Stevens, Christine Guglielmino, Susan Bradbury, Karina Kennedy, Louise Cooley, Belinda McEwan, Charlene M. Kahler, Shakeel Mowlaboccus, David J. Speers, Robert Baird, Kevin Freeman, Lex Leong, Morgyn Warner, Deborah A. Williamson, Jodie McVernon, Monica Lahra, Amy V. JennisonBenjamin P. Howden, Patiyan Andersson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In Australia, invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) incidence rapidly increased between 2014 and 2017 due to rising serogroup W (MenW) and MenY infections. We aimed to better understand the genetic diversity of IMD during 2017 and 2018 using whole genome sequencing data. Methods: Whole genome sequencing data from 440 Australian IMD isolates collected during 2017 and 2018 and 1737 international MenW:CC11 isolates collected in Europe, Africa, Asia, North America, and South America between 1974 and 2020 were used in phylogenetic analyses; genetic relatedness was determined from single-nucleotide polymorphisms. Results: Australian isolates were as follows: 181 MenW (41%), 144 MenB (33%), 88 MenY (20%), 16 MenC (4%), 1 MenW/Y (0.2%), and 10 nongenogroupable (2%). Eighteen clonal complexes (CCs) were identified, and 3 (CC11, CC23, CC41/44) accounted for 78% of isolates (343/440). These CCs were associated with specific serogroups: CC11 (n = 199) predominated among MenW (n = 181) and MenC (n = 15), CC23 (n = 80) among MenY (n = 78), and CC41/44 (n = 64) among MenB (n = 64). MenB isolates were highly diverse, MenY were intermediately diverse, and MenW and MenC isolates demonstrated the least genetic diversity. Thirty serogroup and CC-specific genomic clusters were identified. International CC11 comparison revealed diversification of MenW in Australia. Conclusions: Whole genome sequencing comprehensively characterized Australian IMD isolates, indexed their genetic variability, provided increased within-CC resolution, and elucidated the evolution of CC11 in Australia.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberofae249
Number of pages9
JournalOpen Forum Infectious Diseases
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


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