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The 23rd World Scout Jamboree in 2015 took place in Japan and included over 33,000 scouts from 162 countries. Within nine days of the meeting ending, six cases of laboratory-confirmed invasive serogroup W meningococcal disease occurred among scouts and their close contacts in Scotland and Sweden. The isolates responsible were identical to one-another by routine typing and, where known (4 isolates), belonged to the ST-11 clonal complex (cc11) which is associated with large outbreaks and high case fatality rates. Recent studies have demonstrated the need for high-resolution genomic typing schemes to assign serogroup W cc11 isolates to several distinct strains circulating globally over the past two decades. Here we used such schemes to confirm that the Jamboree-associated cases constituted a genuine outbreak and that this was due to a novel and rapidly expanding strain descended from the strain that has recently expanded in South America and the United Kingdom. We also identify the genetic differences that define the novel strain including four point mutations and three putative recombination events involving the horizontal exchange of 17, six and two genes, respectively. Noteworthy outcomes of these changes were antigenic shifts and the disruption of a transcriptional regulator.


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