Laboratory characterisation of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi isolates from Zimbabwe, 2009–2017


Tapfumanei Mashe, Muchaneta Gudza-Mugabe, Andrew Tarupiwa, Ellen Munemo, Sekesai Mtapuri-Zinyowera, Shannon L. Smouse, Arvinda Sooka, Babill Stray-Pedersen, Anthony M. Smith, and Joshua Mbanga


Typhoid fever remains a major public health problem in Zimbabwe with recurrent outbreaks reported since 2009. To provide guidance on appropriate treatment choice in order to minimise the morbidity and mortality of typhoid fever and prevent large scale outbreaks, we investigated the antimicrobial susceptibility patterns, prevalence of Salmonella enterica serotype Typhi (S. Typhi) H58 haplotype and molecular subtypes of S. Typhi from outbreak strains isolated from 2009 to 2017 in Zimbabwe and compared these to isolates from neighbouring African countries. Antimicrobial susceptibility testing was performed on all isolates using the disk diffusion, and E-Test, and results were interpreted using Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) guidelines (2017). S. Typhi H58 haplotype screening was performed on 161 (58.3%) isolates. Pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) was performed on 91 selected isolates across timelines using antibiotic susceptibility results and geographical distribution (2009 to 2016). Between 2009 and 2017, 16,398 suspected cases and 550 confirmed cases of typhoid fever were notified in Zimbabwe. A total of 276 (44.6%) of the culture-confirmed S. Typhi isolates were analysed and 243 isolates (88.0%) were resistant to two or more first line drugs (ciprofloxacin, ampicillin and chloramphenicol) for typhoid. The most common resistance was to ampicillin-chloramphenicol (172 isolates; 62.3%). Increasing ciprofloxacin resistance was observed from 2012 to 2017 (4.2 to 22.0%). Out of 161 screened isolates, 150 (93.2%) were haplotype H58. Twelve PFGE patterns were observed among the 91 isolates analysed, suggesting some diversity exists among strains circulating in Zimbabwe. PFGE analysis of 2013, 2014 and 2016 isolates revealed a common strain with an indistinguishable PFGE pattern (100% similarity) and indistinguishable from PFGE patterns previously identified in strains isolated from South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania. Resistance to first line antimicrobials used for typhoid fever is emerging in Zimbabwe and the multidrug resistant S. Typhi H58 haplotype is widespread. A predominant PFGE clone circulating in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Zambia and Tanzania, argues for cross-border cooperation in the control of this disease.

Click here to read the article, published in BMC Infectious Diseases.