Neisseria meningitidis is the causative agent of invasive meningococcal disease (IMD). A recombinant vaccine called Bexsero® incorporates four subcapsular antigens (fHbp, NHBA, NadA and PorA) which are used to assign a Bexsero® antigen sequence type (BAST) to each meningococcal strain. The vaccine elicits an immune response against combinations of variants of these antigens which have been grouped into specific BAST profiles that have been shown to have different distributions within geographical locations thus potentially affecting the efficacy of the vaccine. In this study, invasive meningococcal disease isolates from the western seaboard of Australia (Western Australia; WA) were compared to those from the south-eastern seaboard (Victoria; VIC) from 2008 to 2012. Whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of 131 meningococci from VIC and 70 meningococci from WA were analysed for MLST, FetA and BAST profiling. Serogroup B predominated in both jurisdictions and a total of 10 MLST clonal complexes (cc) were shared by both states. Isolates belonging to cc22, cc103 and cc1157 were unique to VIC whilst isolates from cc60 and cc212 were unique to WA. Clonal complex 41/44 represented one-third of the meningococcal population in each state but the predominant ST was locally different: ST-6058 in VIC and ST-146 in WA. Of the 108 BAST profiles identified in this collection, only 9 BASTs were simultaneously observed in both states. A significantly larger proportion of isolates in VIC harboured alleles for the NHBA-2 peptide and fHbp-1, antigenic variants predicted to be covered by the Bexsero® vaccine. The estimate for vaccine coverage in WA (47.1% [95% CI: 41.1–53.1%]) was significantly lower than that in VIC (66.4% [95% CI: 62.3–70.5%]). In conclusion, the antigenic structure of meningococci causing invasive disease in two geographically distinct states of Australia differed significantly during the study period which may affect vaccine effectiveness and highlights the need for representative surveillance when predicting potential impact of meningococcal B vaccines.
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