Epidemiology and Infection

Serogroup C meningococcal disease outbreak associated with discotheque attendance during carnival

A. M. HAURI a1, I. EHRHARD a2, U. FRANK a3, J. AMMER a3, G. FELL a1, O. HAMOUDA a1 and L. PETERSEN a1a4c1
a1 Robert Koch Institute, Stresemannstr. 90-102, 10963 Berlin, Germany
a2 National Reference Center for Meningococci, Institute of Hygiene, University of Heidelberg, Im Neuenheimer Feld 324, 69120 Heidelberg, Germany
a3 County Administration Rottal-Inn – Public Health Office, Ringstraße 4, 84347 Pfarrkirchen, Germany
a4 Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia 30333, USA


In the week following a carnival during 19–24 February 1998, an outbreak of meningococcal disease occurred in a rural German county. The available isolates belonged to phenotype C[ratio]2a[ratio]P1.2,5 and were clonally related by pulsed-field gel electrophoresis. A case-control study was done to identify risk factors for the outbreak and to define possible vaccination target groups. Five persons aged 13–16 years who fell ill during 24–27 February were included in the study. Four of 5 cases and 10 of 32 controls visited local discotheques (OR = 8·8; P = 0·06). Cases also visited discotheques more frequently than controls (χ2 for trend, P = 0·0002). Multiple discotheques during the carnival may have been predominant locations of transmission in this outbreak. Because this risk factor was limited in time, a mass community vaccination campaign was not initiated.

(Accepted September 6 1999)

c1 Author for correspondence.