Diagnostics for invasive Salmonella infections: Current challenges and future directions


Jason R. Andrews, Edward T. Ryan


Invasive Salmonellosis caused by Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi or Paratyphi A, B, C, or invasive non-typhoidal Salmonella serotypes, is an immensely important disease cluster for which reliable, rapid diagnostic tests are not available. Blood culture remains the gold standard but is insensitive, slow, and resource-intensive. Existing molecular diagnostics have poor sensitivity due to the low organism burden in bodily fluids. Commercially available serologic tests for typhoidal Salmonella have had limited sensitivity and specificity. In high burden, resource-limited settings, reliance on clinical diagnosis or inaccurate tests often results in frequent, unnecessary treatment, which contributes selective pressure for the emergence of antimicrobial resistance. This practice also results in inadequate therapy for other etiologies of acute febrile illnesses, including leptospirosis and rickettsial infections. A number of novel serologic, molecular, transcriptomic and metabolomic approaches to diagnostics are under development. Target product profiles that outline specific needs may focus development and investment, and establish benchmarks for accuracy, cost, speed, and portability of new diagnostics. Of note, a critical barrier to diagnostic assay rollout will be the low cost and low perceived harm of empiric therapy on behalf of providers and patients, which leaves few perceived incentives to utilize diagnostics. Approaches that align incentives with societal goals of limiting inappropriate antimicrobial use, such as subsidizing diagnostics, may be essential for stimulating development and uptake of such assays in resource-limited settings. New diagnostics for invasive Salmonellosis should be developed and deployed alongside diagnostics for alternative etiologies of acute febrile illnesses to improve targeted use of antibiotics.


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