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Rapid and accurate differentiation of Salmonella spp. causing enteric fever from non-typhoidal Salmonella is essential for clinical management of cases, laboratory risk management and implementation of public health measures. Current methods used for confirmation of identification including biochemistry and serotyping as well as whole genome sequencing analyses, takes several days. Here we report the development and evaluation of a real-time PCR assay that can be performed directly on crude DNA extracts from bacterial colonies, for the rapid identification of typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella. This novel two-hour assay identifies the genus Salmonella by detecting the ttr gene, encoding tetrathionate reductase, and defines typhoidal Salmonella by the detection of S. Typhi and Paratyphi-specific gene combinations. PCR assay performance was determined using 211 clinical cultures of Salmonella (114 non-typhoidal and 97 Typhoidal strains) and 7 clinical non-Salmonella cultures. In addition, the specificity of the assay was evaluated in silico using a diverse in-house collection of 1882 Salmonella whole genome sequences. The real-time PCR results for 218 isolates and the genomic analysis of the 1882 isolates produced 100% sensitivity and 100% specificity (based on a 7 gene profile) for identifying typhoidal Salmonella compared to the Salmonella whole genome sequencing identification methods currently used at Public Health England.This paper describes a robust real-time PCR assay for the rapid, accurate identification of typhoidal and non-typhoidal Salmonella which will be invaluable for the urgent screening of isolates from symptomatic individuals, the safe processing of isolates in laboratories and for assisting the management of public health risks.
Click here to read the article, published in Journal of Clinical Microbiology.