Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W-135 carriage among US travelers to the 2001 Hajj.J Infect Dis. 2005 Jan 01; 191(1):33-9.JI
In 2000, a large international outbreak of meningococcal disease caused by Neisseria meningitidis serogroup W-135 was identified among pilgrims returning from the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. To assess ongoing risk, we evaluated N. meningitidis carriage among US travelers to the 2001 Hajj. Of 25 N. meningitidis isolates obtained, 15 (60%) were nongroupable and 8 (32%) were serogroup W-135 when tested by standard slide-agglutination techniques. Two additional nongroupable isolates were characterized as serogroup W-135 when tested by polymerase chain reaction. Nine of 10 serogroup W-135 isolates were indistinguishable from the Hajj-2000 clone. None of the departing, but 9 (1.3%) of the returning, pilgrims carried serogroup W-135 (P=.01); all carriers reported previous vaccination. Carriage of N. meningitidis serogroup W-135 increased significantly in pilgrims returning from the Hajj. Although the risk of disease to pilgrims appears to be low, the risk of spread to others of this pathogenic strain remains a concern.