What is this project about?
Although meningococcal disease mostly occurs in young children the bacteria are most commonly found living in the throats of adolescents and young adults. They are transmitted between these young people, and to others, though social contact but only rarely cause disease.
It is now known that the success of the vaccination programme against MenC was largely due to the vaccine’s ability to reduce carriage and transmission between adolescents and also from adolescents to others including younger children. For this reason, interest in understanding how meningococcal bacteria are carried and transmitted has increased.
The research team have recently shown that adolescents are more likely to have higher numbers of meningococcal bacteria in their throats in January and February. This time of ‘high density carriage’ coincides with the peak of the influenza season.
The aim of this project is to establish whether wintertime viral infections (such as influenza) could be associated with high carriage density of meningococcal bacteria. In other words, are people with wintertime viral infections more likely to carry high numbers of meningococcal bacteria and therefore be more infectious?