By means of a filter radioimmunoassay and the use of monoclonal anti-2a and anti-2b antibodies, we have serotyped 3164 of 3688 strains of Neisseria meningitidis isolated from patients in The Netherlands between 1959 and 1981. Serotypes 2a and 2b were distributed differently among the major serogroups A, B, C, and W-135. Neither of the types was found among group A strains. Type 2b strains of serogroup B emerged in 1965, causing a country-wide epidemic which reached a peak incidence in March and April of 1966 and continued to predominate within group B until 1979. Type 2a strains of serogroup C were responsible for a substantial number of sporadic cases over a long period without any association with outbreaks or with a shift in the pattern of the serogroup. After the appearance of group W-135 in 1971, W-135 strains caused a small non-focal epidemic wave. The upsurge of disease due to virulent sub-populations of strains B:2b and C:2a appeared to be closely related to a basic pattern of regular cyclical waves with peak intervals which differed for serogroups A, B, and C. In recent years both serotype 2a and 2b strains within the different serogroups fell to insignificant numbers. Our results show that retrospective large-scale serotyping of collected strains provides insight into the epidemiological patterns of endemic meningococcal disease.

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Journal of Infection
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

de Marie, S., Poolman, J. T., Hoeijmakers, J., Bol, P., Spanjaard, L., & Zanen, H. C. (1986). Meningococcal disease in the Netherlands, 1959-1981. II. The occurrence of serogroups and serotypes 2A and 2B of neisseria-meningitidis. Journal of Infection, 12, 133–143. Retrieved from