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In Italy, the incidence of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD) has remained stable since 2007 (around 0.3 cases/100,000 inhabitants). However, as reported for other European countries, an increase of serogroup Y has been observed. In this study we report IMD cases from 2007 to 2013 in Italy and investigate the clinical and epidemiological features of cases affected by serogroup Y. Molecular characteristics of serogroup Y strains are also described. During the study period, the proportion of IMD cases due to serogroup Y increased, ranging from 2% in 2007 to 17% in 2013 (odds ratio (OR): 8.8), whereby the five to 14 years age group was mostly affected (p < 0.001). Overall 81 serogroup Y IMD cases were identified, with a median age of 18 years, ranging from three months to 84 years. Of the 81 respective patient samples, 56 were further subject to molecular typing. The sequence type (ST)-23 complex (clonal complex (cc)23) was predominant among serogroup Y meningococci (54/56 samples), and included nine different STs. Presumably, ST-23 was the founding genotype, with all the other STs presenting as single-locus variants. All cc23 isolates analysed harboured mutations in the gene; however, no associations among mutations, ST and age group were identified. Overall, these findings generate scientific evidence for the use of the quadrivalent meningococcal conjugate vaccine in the five to 14 years age group.


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