New Genomic Resource Helps to Fight Against Drug Resistant Typhoid Fever

Salmonella typhi
Salmonella typhi
Source : medlineplus

A new online resource gives the public health community the facility to trace antimicrobial resistance in Salmonella typhi (S. Typhi), the bacterium that causes typhoid , using genomic sequencing. Improving surveillance during this way enables early interventions to reduce the spread of the disease.

The free community-driven tool called Typhi Pathogenwatch was developed by the centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance at the large Data Institute, University of Oxford in conjunction with researchers at the Wellcome Sanger Institute, London School of Hygiene and medicine, University of Cambridge, Public Health England and therefore the International Vaccine Institute. a latest article in Nature Communications details how the system works and therefore the scope of its functionality.

Typhoid fever may be a highly contagious bacterial infection that’s commonest in parts of the whole world that have poor sanitation and limited access to neat and clean water. In 2017, quite 10 million cases and quite 110,000 deaths were estimated globally, mostly among children and adolescents in Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa .

Salmonella typhi is becoming increasingly immune to antibiotics, particularly in low-resource settings where health support facilities is not so good. Early warning signs of antimicrobial resistance are often detected through whole genome sequencing of Salmonella typhi.

In the past, this type of genome sequencing has only been possible in higher income countries and has required expert knowledge of genomics and bioinformatics. Pathogenwatch makes the genomic data rapidly accessible to a broad range of individuals within the public health community via an internet browser, where it are often easily analyzed and disseminated.

Routine surveillance using this resource, alongside whole genome sequencing, can inform decisions on treatments for typhoid and therefore the introduction and impact of vaccine programs.

Pathogenwatch facilitates access to genomic data for public health on a worldwide scale. The tool has the potential to sequence other infectious diseases, and has been deployed to assist with the COVID-19 response by tracking variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr. Silvia Argimón, Genomic Epidemiologist at the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance and lead author of the article said, “Genomics has played an important role in our understanding of the spread of drug-resistant typhoid, but building capacity in bioinformatics and genomic epidemiology requires time and a sustained investment. Typhi Pathogenwatch can bridge this gap in settings where a sequencer is out there but capacity remains limited.”

Professor David Aanensen, Director of the Centre for Genomic Pathogen Surveillance said, “Our aim is to deliver value to local data generators through rapid delivery of the proper analytics and straightforward to use interfaces. Typhi Pathogenwatch may be a partnership across the Typhi Genomics community who aim to democratize access to genomic data and technology for global public health decision making’ .”

The findings were first reported on Australian National University.

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