Diagnosing Salmonella enterica Serovar Typhi Infections by Polymerase Chain Reaction Using EDTA Blood Samples of Febrile Patients From Burkina Faso


Hassan M. Al-Emran, Andreas Hahn, Jana Baum, Ligia Maria Cruz Espinoza, Jessica Deerin, Justin Im, Samuel Ibrango, Leon Parfait Kabore, Vera von Kalckreuth, Frank Konings, Florian Marks, Emmanuel Sampo, Ursula Panzner, Se Eun Park, Gi Deok Pak, Heidi Schütt-Gerowitt, Christof David Vinnemeier, Michelle Warren, and Abdramane Bassiahi Soura


Background: Globally, there are an estimated 22 million cases of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi infection each year. However, this figure is likely to be an underestimate due to the low sensitivity of blood culture in S. Typhi diagnosis. The aim of this study was to diagnose S. Typhi by conventional polymerase chain reaction (PCR) using patient’s blood preserved with ethylenediamine tetraacetic acid (EDTA).

Methods: From April 2012 to September 2013, typhoid fever surveillance was conducted in Polesgo and Nioko, 2 dry slum areas in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso. Blood culture was performed for febrile patients using an automated blood culture system. Additional blood was collected in EDTA tubes from those patients and preserved at −80°C. DNA was extracted from EDTA blood and PCR was performed to identify presence of S. Typhi. Randomly selected PCR products were further sequenced to identify S. Typhi–specific amplicons.

Results: Of 1674 patients, S. Typhi was isolated from 18 (1.1%) individuals by blood culture. EDTA blood was collected from 1578 patients, of which 298 EDTA samples were tested by PCR. Salmonella Typhi–specific DNA was identified in 44 (14.8%) samples. The sensitivity of S. Typhi–specific PCR from EDTA blood was 89% (74%–100%) among the blood culture–positive cases. Sixteen S. Typhi–positive PCR products were sequenced, and 13 retrieved the sequence of a S. Typhi–specific amplicon.

Conclusions: These findings suggest that blood culture–based diagnoses of S. Typhi underestimate the burden of typhoid fever in Burkina Faso. PCR could be considered as an alternative method for the identification and diagnosis of S. Typhi in blood samples.


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