Typhoid in Kenya Is Associated with a Dominant Multidrug-Resistant Salmonellaenterica Serovar Typhi Haplotype That Is Also Widespread in Southeast Asia

Document Type



Pathology (East Africa)


In sub-Saharan Africa, the burden of typhoid fever, caused by Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, remains largely unknown, in part because of a lack of blood or bone marrow culture facilities. We characterized a total of 323 S. Typhi isolates from outbreaks in Kenya over the period 1988 to 2008 for antimicrobial susceptibilities and phylogenetic relationships using single-nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) analysis. There was a dramatic increase in the number and percentage of multidrug-resistant (MDR) S. Typhi isolates over the study period. Overall, only 54 (16.7%) S. Typhi isolates were fully sensitive, while the majority, 195 (60.4%), were multiply resistant to most commonly available drugs—ampicillin, chloramphenicol, tetracycline, and cotrimoxazole; 74 (22.9%) isolates were resistant to a single antimicrobial, usually ampicillin, cotrimoxazole, or tetracycline. Resistance to these antibiotics was encoded on self-transferrable IncHI1 plasmids of the ST6 sequence type. Of the 94 representative S. Typhi isolates selected for genome-wide haplotype analysis, sensitive isolates fell into several phylogenetically different groups, whereas MDR isolates all belonged to a single haplotype, H58, associated with MDR and decreased ciprofloxacin susceptibility, which is also dominant in many parts of Southeast Asia. Derivatives of the same S. Typhi lineage, H58, are responsible for multidrug resistance in Kenya and parts of Southeast Asia, suggesting intercontinental spread of a single MDR clone. Given the emergence of this aggressive MDR haplotype, careful selection and monitoring of antibiotic usage will be required in Kenya, and potentially other regions of sub-Saharan Africa.


Journal of Clinical Microbiology