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Carriage of Neisseria meningitidis and Neisseria lactamica among ethnic Greek school children from Russian immigrant families in Athens

Jenny Kremastinou, Georgina Tzanakaki, Emmanuel Velonakis, Aliki Voyiatzi, Alexandra Nickolaou, Robert A. Elton, Donald Weir, Caroline Blackwell
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1574-695X.1999.tb01711.x 13-20 First published online: 1 January 1999

Abstract

During February and March 1995, a survey of meningococcal carriage in 625 school children was carried out in a suburb of Athens in which there was a large number of ethnic Greeks who had immigrated from Russia beginning in the early 1990s. The objectives of the study were: (1) to determine if factors associated with carriage of meningococci observed in a previous study of Greek school children were similar for the immigrant population; (2) to compare phenotypic characteristics of meningococci from the immigrant population with those isolated from children in Athens. Overall isolation rate for meningococci was 82/625 (13.1%), significantly higher than that found for school children in Athens (5.8%) during the winter of 1990–1991 (5.8%) (χ2= 25.98, P= 0.0000003). By univariate analysis, carriage was not associated with sex, number of individuals per household, blood group, secretor status, socioeconomic level or maternal smoking; however, it was associated with fathers' smoking. The high proportion of men who smoked compared with the low proportion of women smokers might contribute to this finding. The main serogroup of meningococci isolated from this population was A (28%). While serogroup A appears to be more prevalent among Russian and Kurdish immigrants (14%) than among Greek school children or military recruits (4%), there has not been an increase in group A meningococcal disease in Greece. The isolation rate for N. lactamica was high 105/625 (17.3%). A few of these strains bound some of the monoclonal antibodies used for meningococcal serotyping and subtyping, and they are being examined in greater detail.

Keywords
  • Immigrant population
  • Neisseria meningitidis
  • Neisseria lactamica
  • Parental smoking
  • Serogroup A