Narrative review of methods and findings of recent studies on the carriage of meningococci and other Neisseria species in the African Meningitis Belt.
Greenwood BM., Aseffa A., Caugant DA., Diallo K., Kristiansen PA., Maiden MCJ., Stuart JM., Trotter CL.
OBJECTIVE: To review the findings of studies of pharyngeal carriage of Neisseria meningitidis and related species conducted in the African meningitis belt since a previous review published in 2007. METHODS: PubMed and Web of Science were searched in July 2018 using the terms 'meningococcal OR Neisseria meningitidis OR lactamica AND carriage AND Africa', with the search limited to papers published on or after 1st January 2007. We conducted a narrative review of these publications. RESULTS: One hundred and thirteen papers were identified using the search terms described above, 20 of which reported new data from surveys conducted in an African meningitis belt country. These papers described 40 surveys conducted before the introduction of the group A meningococcal conjugate vaccine (MenAfriVacR ) during which 66 707 pharyngeal swabs were obtained. Carriage prevalence of N. meningitidis varied substantially by time and place, ranging from <1% to 24%. The mean pharyngeal carriage prevalence of N. meningitidis across all surveys was 4.5% [95% CI: 3.4%, 6.8%] and that of capsulated N. meningitidis was 2.8% [95% CI: 1.9%; 5.2%]. A study of households provided strong evidence for meningococcal transmission within and outside households. The introduction of MenAfriVac® led to marked reductions in carriage of the serogroup A meningococcus in Burkina Faso and Chad. CONCLUSIONS: Recent studies employing standardised methods confirm the findings of older studies that carriage of N. meningitidis in the African meningitis belt is highly variable over time and place, but generally occurs with a lower prevalence and shorter duration than reported from industrialised countries.