Uncovering the growing burden of enteric fever: A molecular analysis of Salmonella Typhi antimicrobial resistance


Hassan Imran, Fiza Saleem, Sidra Gull, Zaman Khan


Enteric fever, a persistent public health challenge in developing regions, is exacerbated by suboptimal socioeconomic conditions, contaminated water and food sources, and insufficient sanitation. This study delves into the antimicrobial susceptibility of Salmonella Typhi, uncovering the genetic underpinnings of its resistance. Analyzing 897 suspected cases, we identified a significant prevalence of typhoid fever, predominantly in males (58.3 %) and younger demographics. Alarmingly, our data reveals an escalation in resistance to both primary and secondary antibiotics, with cases of multi-drug resistant (MDR) and extensively drug-resistant (XDR) S. Typhi reaching 14.7 % and 43.4 %, respectively, in 2021. The Multiple Antibiotic Resistance (MAR) index exceeded 0.2 in over half of the isolates, signaling widespread antibiotic misuse. The study discerned 47 unique antibiotic resistance patterns and pinpointed carbapenem and macrolide antibiotics as the remaining effective treatments against XDR strains, underlining the critical need to preserve these drugs for severe cases. Molecular examinations identified blaTEM, blaSHV, and blaCTX-M genes in ceftriaxone-resistant strains, while qnrS was specific to ciprofloxacin-resistant variants. Notably, all examined strains exhibited a singular mutation in the gyrA gene, maintaining wild-type gyrB and parC genes. The erm(B) gene emerged as the primary determinant of azithromycin resistance. Furthermore, a distressing increase in resistance genes was observed over three years, with erm(B), blaTEM and qnrS showing significant upward trends. These findings are a clarion call for robust antimicrobial stewardship programs to curtail inappropriate antibiotic use and forestall the burgeoning threat of antibiotic resistance in S. Typhi.

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