The emergence and spread of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) pose a major threat to the effective treatment and control of typhoid fever. The ongoing outbreak of extensively drug-resistant Salmonella Typhi (S. Typhi) in Pakistan has left azithromycin as the only remaining broadly efficacious oral antimicrobial for typhoid in South Asia. Ominously, azithromycin-resistant S. Typhi organisms have been subsequently reported in Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.
Here, we aimed to understand the molecular basis of AMR in 66 S. Typhi organisms isolated in a cross-sectional study performed in a suburb of Chandigarh in Northern India using whole-genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis.
We identified 7 S. Typhi organisms with the R717Q mutation in the acrB gene that was recently found to confer resistance to azithromycin in Bangladesh. Six out of the seven azithromycin-resistant S. Typhi isolates also exhibited triple mutations in gyrA (S83F and D87N) and parC (S80I) genes and were resistant to ciprofloxacin. These contemporary ciprofloxacin/azithromycin-resistant isolates were phylogenetically distinct from each other and from those reported from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and Nepal.
The independent emergence of azithromycin-resistant typhoid in Northern India reflects an emerging broader problem across South Asia and illustrates the urgent need for the introduction of typhoid conjugate vaccines in the region.
Click here to read the article, published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.