Introduction: Neisseria meningitidis invasive disease is a major public health problem. Pharyngeal carriage is considered a prerequisite for invasive infection. Prevalence reaches 10% in general population and up to 30% in the 20-24 years age group. The aim of this study was to asses pharyngeal carriage prevalence in healthy subjects aged 18-24 years, and as secondary endpoints evaluate known risk factors, to identify serogroups and sequence in the isolated strains. Methods: Cross-sectional study in 500 healthy subjects; students from Universidad de Chile aged 18-24 years, Santiago, Chile, October 2012. Each subject underwent a risk factor survey prior to throat culture sampling. Samples were processed in one central Microbiology Laboratory of Hospital Luis Calvo Mackenna and serogrouping and sequencing was performed at Instituto de Salud Pública de Chile. Results: We obtained throat samples from 500 healthy subjects, 20 (4%) positive for N. meningitidis. Of positive strains 20% were serogroup B, 15% W and the rest non groupable. The median age was 20 years, 50% were men. Of the risk factors evaluated, 24% were current smokers, 16% shared a room, 72% had kissed someone during the last month, 64% had gone to pub and 76% had consumed alcohol in the same period of time. Discussion: Literatures meningococcal carriage prevalence reaches up to 30% in people aged 18-24 years. Prevalence in our study was 4%. Different interpretations could be given; one could be the absence of overcrowding in our students because of the lack of dorms in our scholar system and also the characteristics of our enrolled group. Conclusions: Our results suggest the necessity to extend the study to other age groups and to other cities, to better understand the Chilean reality, as well as others regions of America, considering that these results cannot be extrapolated to another countries.
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