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Case-control investigation of invasive Salmonella disease in Malawi reveals no evidence of environmental or animal transmission of invasive strains, and supports human to human transmission

Koolman, Leonard, Prakash, Reenesh, Diness, Yohane, Msefula, Chisomo, Nyirenda, Tonney S., Olgemoeller, Franziska, Wigley, Paul, Perez-Sepulveda, Blanca, Hinton, Jay C. D., Owen, Siân V., Feasey, Nicholas ORCID:, Ashton, Philip M. and Gordon, Melita A. (2022) 'Case-control investigation of invasive Salmonella disease in Malawi reveals no evidence of environmental or animal transmission of invasive strains, and supports human to human transmission'. PLoS Neglected Tropical Diseases, Vol 16, Issue 12, e0010982.

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Invasive Salmonella infections cause significant morbidity and mortality in Sub-Saharan Africa. However, the routes of transmission are uncertain. We conducted a case-control study of index-case and geographically-matched control households in Blantyre, Malawi, sampling Salmonella isolates from index cases, healthy people, animals, and the household environment.

Sixty index cases of human invasive Salmonella infection were recruited (March 2015-Oct 2016). Twenty-eight invasive Non-Typhoidal Salmonella (iNTS) disease and 32 typhoid patients consented to household sampling. Each index-case household was geographically matched to a control household. Extensive microbiological sampling included stool sampling from healthy household members, stool or rectal swabs from household-associated animals and boot-sock sampling of the household environment.

1203 samples from 120 households, yielded 43 non-Typhoidal Salmonella (NTS) isolates from 25 households (overall sample positivity 3.6%). In the 28 iNTS patients, disease was caused by 3 STs of Salmonella Typhimurium, mainly ST313. In contrast, the isolates from households spanned 15 sequence types (STs). Two S. Typhimurium isolates from index cases closely matched isolates from their respective asymptomatic household members (2 and 3 SNP differences respectively). Despite the recovery of a diverse range of NTS, there was no overlap between the STs causing iNTS disease with any environmental or animal isolates.

The finding of NTS strains from index cases that matched household members, coupled with lack of related animal or environmental isolates, supports a hypothesis of human to human transmission of iNTS infections in the household. The breadth of NTS strains found in animals and the household environment demonstrated the robustness of NTS sampling and culture methodology, and suggests a diverse ecology of Salmonella in this setting. Healthy typhoid (S. Typhi) carrier state was not detected. The lack of S. Typhi isolates from the household environment suggests that further methodological development is needed to culture S. Typhi from the environment.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: WC Communicable Diseases > WC 20 Research (General)
WC Communicable Diseases > Infection. Bacterial Infections > Enteric Infections > WC 269 Salmonella infections
Faculty: Department: Clinical Sciences & International Health > Clinical Sciences Department
Clinical Sciences & International Health > International Public Health Department
Digital Object Identifer (DOI):
SWORD Depositor: JISC Pubrouter
Depositing User: JISC Pubrouter
Date Deposited: 17 Jan 2023 13:10
Last Modified: 17 Jan 2023 13:12


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