Background: The molecular structure of circulating enteric fever pathogens was studied using hospital-based genomic surveillance in a tertiary care referral centre in South India as a first genomic surveillance study, to our knowledge, of blood culture-confirmed enteric fever in the region.
Methods: Blood culture surveillance was conducted at St John’s Medical College Hospital, Bengaluru, between July 2016 and June 2017. The bacterial isolates collected were linked to demographic variables of patients and subjected to WGS. The resulting pathogen genomic data were also globally contextualized to gauge possible phylogeographical patterns.
Results: Hospital-based genomic surveillance for enteric fever in Bengaluru, India, identified 101 Salmonella enterica Typhi and 14 S. Paratyphi A in a 1 year period. Ninety-six percent of isolates displayed non-susceptibility to fluoroquinolones. WGS showed the dominant pathogen was S. Typhi genotype 184.108.40.206 (H58 lineage II). A fluoroquinolone-resistant triple-mutant clone of S. Typhi 220.127.116.11 previously associated with gatifloxacin treatment failure in Nepal was implicated in 18% of enteric fever cases, indicating ongoing inter-regional circulation.
Conclusions: Enteric fever in South India continues to be a major public health issue and is strongly associated with antimicrobial resistance. Robust microbiological surveillance is necessary to direct appropriate treatment and preventive strategies. Of particular concern is the emergence and expansion of the highly fluoroquinolone-resistant triple-mutant S. Typhi clone and its ongoing inter- and intra-country transmission in South Asia, which highlights the need for regional coordination of intervention strategies, including vaccination and longer-term strategies such as improvements to support hygiene and sanitation.
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