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Infections with Neisseria meningitidis are grave and present largely in two ways: as meningitis and septicemia. Their case-fatality rate is high approaching 8% despite existing treatment. Preventive measures must be swiftly implemented to avoid transmission to patient relatives and the spread of the germ in the population.
Molecular surveillance by the National Centre for Meningococci (NCM) is one of the means, together with mandatory disease notification by physians and laboratories, to timely spot and fight epidemics.
NCM’s activities are carried out at the Bacteriology Laboratory of the Geneva University Hospitals (HUG).


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The CNM must exercise an alert and expertise mission for the attention of the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH), cantonal administrations, diagnostic laboratories, the medical corps and hospitals.
In this perspective, the CNM’s objectives are:

  1. To assist Swiss laboratories with the confirmation of Neisseria meningitidis and to participate in the dissemination of scientific information (bacteriological identification, distribution of serogroups, methods for determining antibiotic sensitivity).

  2. To monitor antibiotic resistance, particularly to penicillin. That determination is made by the MIC method (Minimum Inhibitory Concentration) and by the sequencing of the gene penA, for sensitivity to penicillin.

  3. To determine serogroups (A, B, C, W135, X), by immunoagglutination. Certain serogroups imply specific prophylactic measures (chemoprophylaxis and/or vaccination for the serogroups A, C, Y, W135).

  4. To identify subtypes by sequencing porA gene (encoding outer membrane proteins) or gene fetA (encoding outer membrane proteins regulated by iron).

  5. To analyse additional epidemiologic markers for identification of clones: Multilocus Sequence Typing (MLST).

  6. To develop techniques for more rapid diagnosis (PCR from CSF and blood) or improved genotyping of strains (biochips or microarrays).