register interest

Professor Paul Turner

Research Area: Global Health
Scientific Themes: Tropical Medicine & Global Health
Keywords: Acute respiratory infection and Streptococcus pneumoniae
Web Links:

Paul Turner is a clinical microbiologist based at the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Cambodia. He is director of the Cambodia-Oxford Medical Research Unit (COMRU).

His research interests include:

  • Antimicrobial resistance surveillance and control;
  • Paediatric healthcare associated infections;
  • Pneumococcal colonisation and disease and the impact of pneumococcal vaccines.

Name Department Institution Country
Professor Stephen Baker Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Ho Chi Minh City Vietnam
Professor Stephen Bentley Wellcome Trust Sanger Institute United Kingdom
Professor Ben Cooper Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr Nicholas Croucher Imperial College London United Kingdom
Dr David AB Dance Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
Professor Nicholas PJ Day FMedSci FRCP Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Dr H Rogier van Doorn Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Hanoi Vietnam
Professor David Goldblatt Institute of Child Health, London United Kingdom
Associate Professor Yoel Lubell Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Paul Newton Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Vientiane Laos
Dr Claudia Turner Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Siem Reap Cambodia
Professor Sir Nicholas J White FRS Tropical Medicine Oxford University, Bangkok Thailand
Professor Kim Mulholland Murdoch Childrens Research Institute Australia
Fox-Lewis S, Pol S, Miliya T, Day NPJ, Turner P, Turner C. 2017. Utilization of a clinical microbiology service at a Cambodian paediatric hospital and its impact on appropriate antimicrobial prescribing. J Antimicrob Chemother, | Show Abstract | Read more

Background: Antimicrobial resistance threatens human health worldwide. Antimicrobial misuse is a major driver of resistance. Promoting appropriate antimicrobial use requires an understanding of how clinical microbiology services are utilized, particularly in resource-limited settings. Objectives: To assess the appropriateness of antimicrobial prescribing and the factors affecting utilization of the established clinical microbiology service (CMS). The CMS comprises the microbiology laboratory, clinical microbiologists (infection doctors) and antimicrobial treatment guidelines. Methods: This mixed-methods study was conducted at a non-governmental Cambodian paediatric hospital. Empirical and post-culture antimicrobial prescriptions were reviewed from medical records. The random sample included 10 outpatients per week in 2016 (retrospective) and 20 inpatients per week for 4 weeks in the medical, neonatal and intensive care wards (prospective). Post-culture prescriptions were assessed in patients with positive blood and cerebrospinal fluid cultures from 1 January 2014 to 31 December 2016. Focus group discussions and semi-structured interviews with clinicians explored barriers and facilitators to use of the CMS. Results: Only 31% of outpatients were prescribed empirical antimicrobials. Post-culture prescriptions (394/443, 89%) were more likely to be appropriate than empirical prescriptions (447/535, 84%), based on treatment guidelines, microbiology advice and antimicrobial susceptibility test results (P = 0.015). Being comprehensive, accessible and trusted enabled CMS utilization. Clinical microbiologists provided a crucial human interface between the CMS and physicians. The main barriers were a strong clinical hierarchy and occasional communication difficulties. Conclusions: Antimicrobial prescribing in this hospital was largely appropriate. A culturally appropriate human interface linking the laboratory and physicians is essential in providing effective microbiology services and ensuring appropriate antimicrobial prescribing in resource-limited settings.

Salter SJ, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, de Goffau MC, Wagner J, Parkhill J, Bentley SD, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Turner P. 2017. A longitudinal study of the infant nasopharyngeal microbiota: The effects of age, illness and antibiotic use in a cohort of South East Asian children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (10), pp. e0005975. | Show Abstract | Read more

A longitudinal study was undertaken in infants living in the Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border between 2007 and 2010. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected monthly, from birth to 24 months of age, with additional swabs taken if the infant was diagnosed with pneumonia according to WHO clinical criteria. At the time of collection, swabs were cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and multiple serotype carriage was assessed. The bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of 544 swabs from 21 infants were analysed to see how the microbiota changes with age, respiratory infection, antibiotic consumption and pneumococcal acquisition. The nasopharyngeal microbiota is a somewhat homogenous community compared to that of other body sites. In this cohort it is dominated by five taxa: Moraxella, Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Corynebacterium and an uncharacterized Flavobacteriaceae taxon of 93% nucleotide similarity to Ornithobacterium. Infant age correlates with certain changes in the microbiota across the cohort: Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium are associated with the first few months of life while Moraxella and the uncharacterised Flavobacteriaceae increase in proportional abundance with age. Respiratory illness and antibiotic use often coincide with an unpredictable perturbation of the microbiota that differs from infant to infant and in different illness episodes. The previously described interaction between Dolosigranulum and Streptococcus was observed in these data. Monthly sampling demonstrates that the nasopharyngeal microbiota is in flux throughout the first two years of life, and that in this refugee camp population the pool of potential bacterial colonisers may be limited.

Lees JA, Croucher NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Parkhill J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD. 2017. Genome-wide identification of lineage and locus specific variation associated with pneumococcal carriage duration. Elife, 6 | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of invasive disease in infants, especially in low-income settings. Asymptomatic carriage in the nasopharynx is a prerequisite for disease, but variability in its duration is currently only understood at the serotype level. Here we developed a model to calculate the duration of carriage episodes from longitudinal swab data, and combined these results with whole genome sequence data. We estimated that pneumococcal genomic variation accounted for 63% of the phenotype variation, whereas the host traits considered here (age and previous carriage) accounted for less than 5%. We further partitioned this heritability into both lineage and locus effects, and quantified the amount attributable to the largest sources of variation in carriage duration: serotype (17%), drug-resistance (9%) and other significant locus effects (7%). A pan-genome-wide association study identified prophage sequences as being associated with decreased carriage duration independent of serotype, potentially by disruption of the competence mechanism. These findings support theoretical models of pneumococcal competition and antibiotic resistance.

Mostowy RJ, Croucher NJ, De Maio N, Chewapreecha C, Salter SJ, Turner P, Aanensen DM, Bentley SD, Didelot X, Fraser C. 2017. Pneumococcal Capsule Synthesis Locus cps as Evolutionary Hotspot with Potential to Generate Novel Serotypes by Recombination. Mol Biol Evol, 34 (10), pp. 2537-2554. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diversity of the polysaccharide capsule in Streptococcus pneumoniae-main surface antigen and the target of the currently used pneumococcal vaccines-constitutes a major obstacle in eliminating pneumococcal disease. Such diversity is genetically encoded by almost 100 variants of the capsule biosynthesis locus, cps. However, the evolutionary dynamics of the capsule remains not fully understood. Here, using genetic data from 4,519 bacterial isolates, we found cps to be an evolutionary hotspot with elevated substitution and recombination rates. These rates were a consequence of relaxed purifying selection and positive, diversifying selection acting at this locus, supporting the hypothesis that the capsule has an increased potential to generate novel diversity compared with the rest of the genome. Diversifying selection was particularly evident in the region of wzd/wze genes, which are known to regulate capsule expression and hence the bacterium's ability to cause disease. Using a novel, capsule-centered approach, we analyzed the evolutionary history of 12 major serogroups. Such analysis revealed their complex diversification scenarios, which were principally driven by recombination with other serogroups and other streptococci. Patterns of recombinational exchanges between serogroups could not be explained by serotype frequency alone, thus pointing to nonrandom associations between co-colonizing serotypes. Finally, we discovered a previously unobserved mosaic serotype 39X, which was confirmed to carry a viable and structurally novel capsule. Adding to previous discoveries of other mosaic capsules in densely sampled collections, these results emphasize the strong adaptive potential of the bacterium by its ability to generate novel antigenic diversity by recombination.

Skwark MJ, Croucher NJ, Puranen S, Chewapreecha C, Pesonen M, Xu YY, Turner P, Harris SR, Beres SB, Musser JM et al. 2017. Interacting networks of resistance, virulence and core machinery genes identified by genome-wide epistasis analysis. PLoS Genet, 13 (2), pp. e1006508. | Show Abstract | Read more

Recent advances in the scale and diversity of population genomic datasets for bacteria now provide the potential for genome-wide patterns of co-evolution to be studied at the resolution of individual bases. Here we describe a new statistical method, genomeDCA, which uses recent advances in computational structural biology to identify the polymorphic loci under the strongest co-evolutionary pressures. We apply genomeDCA to two large population data sets representing the major human pathogens Streptococcus pneumoniae (pneumococcus) and Streptococcus pyogenes (group A Streptococcus). For pneumococcus we identified 5,199 putative epistatic interactions between 1,936 sites. Over three-quarters of the links were between sites within the pbp2x, pbp1a and pbp2b genes, the sequences of which are critical in determining non-susceptibility to beta-lactam antibiotics. A network-based analysis found these genes were also coupled to that encoding dihydrofolate reductase, changes to which underlie trimethoprim resistance. Distinct from these antibiotic resistance genes, a large network component of 384 protein coding sequences encompassed many genes critical in basic cellular functions, while another distinct component included genes associated with virulence. The group A Streptococcus (GAS) data set population represents a clonal population with relatively little genetic variation and a high level of linkage disequilibrium across the genome. Despite this, we were able to pinpoint two RNA pseudouridine synthases, which were each strongly linked to a separate set of loci across the chromosome, representing biologically plausible targets of co-selection. The population genomic analysis method applied here identifies statistically significantly co-evolving locus pairs, potentially arising from fitness selection interdependence reflecting underlying protein-protein interactions, or genes whose product activities contribute to the same phenotype. This discovery approach greatly enhances the future potential of epistasis analysis for systems biology, and can complement genome-wide association studies as a means of formulating hypotheses for targeted experimental work.

Hearn P, Miliya T, Seng S, Ngoun C, Day NPJ, Lubell Y, Turner C, Turner P. 2017. Prospective surveillance of healthcare associated infections in a Cambodian pediatric hospital. Antimicrob Resist Infect Control, 6 (1), pp. 16. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Healthcare associated infections (HAI) are the most common preventable adverse events following admission to healthcare facilities. Data from low-income countries are scarce. We sought to prospectively define HAI incidence at Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC), a Cambodian pediatric referral hospital. METHODS: Prospective HAI surveillance was introduced for medical admissions to AHC. Cases were identified on daily ward rounds and confirmed using locally adapted Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) definitions. During the surveillance period, established infection prevention and control (IPC) activities continued, including hand hygiene surveillance. In addition, antimicrobial stewardship practices such as the creation of an antimicrobial guideline smartphone app were introduced. RESULTS: Between 1st January and 31st December 2015 there were 3,263 medical admissions and 102 HAI cases. The incidence of HAI was 4.6/1,000 patient-days (95% confidence interval 3.8-5.6) and rates were highest amongst neonates. Median length of stay was significantly longer in HAI cases: 25 days versus 5 days for non-HAI cases (p < 0.0001). All-cause in-hospital mortality increased from 2.0 to 16.1% with HAI (p < 0.0001). Respiratory infections were the most common HAI (54/102; 52.9%). Amongst culture positive infections, Gram-negative organisms predominated (13/16; 81.3%). Resistance to third generation cephalosporins was common, supporting the use of more expensive carbapenem drugs empirically in HAI cases. The total cost of treatment for all 102 HCAI cases combined, based on additional inpatient days, was estimated to be $299,608. CONCLUSIONS: Prospective HAI surveillance can form part of routine practice in low-income healthcare settings. HAI incidence at AHC was relatively low, but human and financial costs remained high due to increased carbapenem use, prolonged admissions and higher mortality rates.

Lehtinen S, Blanquart F, Croucher NJ, Turner P, Lipsitch M, Fraser C. 2017. Evolution of antibiotic resistance is linked to any genetic mechanism affecting bacterial duration of carriage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (5), pp. 1075-1080. | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding how changes in antibiotic consumption affect the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is important for public health. In a number of bacterial species, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, the prevalence of resistance has remained relatively stable despite prolonged selection pressure from antibiotics. The evolutionary processes allowing the robust coexistence of antibiotic sensitive and resistant strains are not fully understood. While allelic diversity can be maintained at a locus by direct balancing selection, there is no evidence for such selection acting in the case of resistance. In this work, we propose a mechanism for maintaining coexistence at the resistance locus: linkage to a second locus that is under balancing selection and that modulates the fitness effect of resistance. We show that duration of carriage plays such a role, with long duration of carriage increasing the fitness advantage gained from resistance. We therefore predict that resistance will be more common in strains with a long duration of carriage and that mechanisms maintaining diversity in duration of carriage will also maintain diversity in antibiotic resistance. We test these predictions in S. pneumoniae and find that the duration of carriage of a serotype is indeed positively correlated with the prevalence of resistance in that serotype. These findings suggest heterogeneity in duration of carriage is a partial explanation for the coexistence of sensitive and resistant strains and that factors determining bacterial duration of carriage will also affect the prevalence of resistance.

Seale AC, Hutchison C, Fernandes S, Stoesser N, Kelly H, Lowe B, Turner P, Hanson K, Chandler CIR, Goodman C et al. 2017. Supporting surveillance capacity for antimicrobial resistance: Laboratory capacity strengthening for drug resistant infections in low and middle income countries. Wellcome Open Res, 2 pp. 91. | Show Abstract | Read more

Development of antimicrobial resistance (AMR) threatens our ability to treat common and life threatening infections. Identifying the emergence of AMR requires strengthening of surveillance for AMR, particularly in low and middle-income countries (LMICs) where the burden of infection is highest and health systems are least able to respond. This work aimed, through a combination of desk-based investigation, discussion with colleagues worldwide, and visits to three contrasting countries (Ethiopia, Malawi and Vietnam), to map and compare existing models and surveillance systems for AMR, to examine what worked and what did not work. Current capacity for AMR surveillance varies in LMICs, but and systems in development are focussed on laboratory surveillance. This approach limits understanding of AMR and the extent to which laboratory results can inform local, national and international public health policy. An integrated model, combining clinical, laboratory and demographic surveillance in sentinel sites is more informative and costs for clinical and demographic surveillance are proportionally much lower. The speed and extent to which AMR surveillance can be strengthened depends on the functioning of the health system, and the resources available. Where there is existing laboratory capacity, it may be possible to develop 5-20 sentinel sites with a long term view of establishing comprehensive surveillance; but where health systems are weaker and laboratory infrastructure less developed, available expertise and resources may limit this to 1-2 sentinel sites. Prioritising core functions, such as automated blood cultures, reduces investment at each site. Expertise to support AMR surveillance in LMICs may come from a variety of international, or national, institutions. It is important that these organisations collaborate to support the health systems on which AMR surveillance is built, as well as improving technical capacity specifically relating to AMR surveillance. Strong collaborations, and leadership, drive successful AMR surveillance systems across countries and contexts.

Suttisunhakul V, Pumpuang A, Ekchariyawat P, Wuthiekanun V, Elrod MG, Turner P, Currie BJ, Phetsouvanh R, Dance DAB, Limmathurotsakul D et al. 2017. Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry for the identification of Burkholderia pseudomallei from Asia and Australia and differentiation between Burkholderia species. PLoS One, 12 (4), pp. e0175294. | Show Abstract | Read more

Matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization time-of-flight mass spectrometry (MALDI-TOF MS) is increasingly used for rapid bacterial identification. Studies of Burkholderia pseudomallei identification have involved small isolate numbers drawn from a restricted geographic region. There is a need to expand the reference database and evaluate B. pseudomallei from a wider geographic distribution that more fully captures the extensive genetic diversity of this species. Here, we describe the evaluation of over 650 isolates. Main spectral profiles (MSP) for 26 isolates of B. pseudomallei (N = 5) and other Burkholderia species (N = 21) were added to the Biotyper database. MALDI-TOF MS was then performed on 581 B. pseudomallei, 19 B. mallei, 6 B. thailandensis and 23 isolates representing a range of other bacterial species. B. pseudomallei originated from northeast and east Thailand (N = 524), Laos (N = 12), Cambodia (N = 14), Hong Kong (N = 4) and Australia (N = 27). All 581 B. pseudomallei were correctly identified, with 100% sensitivity and specificity. Accurate identification required a minimum inoculum of 5 x 107 CFU/ml, and identification could be performed on spiked blood cultures after 24 hours of incubation. Comparison between a dendrogram constructed from MALDI-TOF MS main spectrum profiles and a phylogenetic tree based on recA gene sequencing demonstrated that MALDI-TOF MS distinguished between B. pseudomallei and B. mallei, while the recA tree did not. MALDI-TOF MS is an accurate method for the identification of B. pseudomallei, and discriminates between this and other related Burkholderia species.

Turner P, Kloprogge S, Miliya T, Soeng S, Tan P, Sar P, Yos P, Moore CE, Wuthiekanun V, Limmathurotsakul D et al. 2016. A retrospective analysis of melioidosis in Cambodian children, 2009-2013. BMC Infect Dis, 16 (1), pp. 688. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Melioidiosis, infection by Burkholderia pseudomallei, is an important but frequently under-recognised cause of morbidity and mortality in Southeast Asia and elsewhere in the tropics. Data on the epidemiology of paediatric melioidosis in Cambodia are extremely limited. METHODS: Culture-positive melioidosis cases presenting to Angkor Hospital for Children, a non-governmental paediatric hospital located in Siem Reap, Northern Cambodia, between 1st January 2009 and 31st December 2013 were identified by searches of hospital and laboratory databases and logbooks. RESULTS: One hundred seventy-three evaluable cases were identified, presenting from eight provinces. For Siem Reap province, the median commune level incidence was estimated to be 28-35 cases per 100,000 children <15 years per year. Most cases presented during the wet season, May to October. The median age at presentation was 5.7 years (range 8 days-15.9 years). Apart from undernutrition, co-morbidities were rare. Three quarters (131/173) of the children had localised infection, most commonly skin/soft tissue infection (60 cases) or suppurative parotitis (51 cases). There were 39 children with B. pseudomallei bacteraemia: 29 (74.4%) of these had clinical and/or radiological evidence of pneumonia. Overall mortality was 16.8% (29/173) with mortality in bacteraemic cases of 71.8% (28/39). At least seven children did not receive an antimicrobial with activity against B. pseudomallei prior to death. CONCLUSIONS: This retrospective study demonstrated a considerable burden of melioidosis in Cambodian children. Given the high mortality associated with bacteraemic infection, there is an urgent need for greater awareness amongst healthcare professionals in Cambodia and other countries where melioidosis is known or suspected to be endemic. Empiric treatment guidelines should ensure suspected cases are treated early with appropriate antimicrobials.

Chaguza C, Cornick JE, Harris SR, Andam CP, Bricio-Moreno L, Yang M, Yalcin F, Ousmane S, Govindpersad S, Senghore M et al. 2016. Understanding pneumococcal serotype 1 biology through population genomic analysis. BMC Infect Dis, 16 (1), pp. 649. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumococcus kills over one million children annually and over 90 % of these deaths occur in low-income countries especially in Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA) where HIV exacerbates the disease burden. In SSA, serotype 1 pneumococci particularly the endemic ST217 clone, causes majority of the pneumococcal disease burden. To understand the evolution of the virulent ST217 clone, we analysed ST217 whole genomes from isolates sampled from African and Asian countries. METHODS: We analysed 226 whole genome sequences from the ST217 lineage sampled from 9 African and 4 Asian countries. We constructed a whole genome alignment and used it for phylogenetic and coalescent analyses. We also screened the genomes to determine presence of antibiotic resistance conferring genes. RESULTS: Population structure analysis grouped the ST217 isolates into five sequence clusters (SCs), which were highly associated with different geographical regions and showed limited intracontinental and intercontinental spread. The SCs showed lower than expected genomic sequence, which suggested strong purifying selection and small population sizes caused by bottlenecks. Recombination rates varied between the SCs but were lower than in other successful clones such as PMEN1. African isolates showed higher prevalence of antibiotic resistance genes than Asian isolates. Interestingly, certain West African isolates harbored a defective chloramphenicol and tetracycline resistance-conferring element (Tn5253) with a deletion in the loci encoding the chloramphenicol resistance gene (cat pC194), which caused lower chloramphenicol than tetracycline resistance. Furthermore, certain genes that promote colonisation were absent in the isolates, which may contribute to serotype 1's rarity in carriage and consequently its lower recombination rates. CONCLUSIONS: The high phylogeographic diversity of the ST217 clone shows that this clone has been in circulation globally for a long time, which allowed its diversification and adaptation in different geographical regions. Such geographic adaptation reflects local variations in selection pressures in different locales. Further studies will be required to fully understand the biological mechanisms which makes the ST217 clone highly invasive but unable to successfully colonise the human nasopharynx for long durations which results in lower recombination rates.

Wong VK, Baker S, Connor TR, Pickard D, Page AJ, Dave J, Murphy N, Holliman R, Sefton A, Millar M et al. 2016. An extended genotyping framework for Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi, the cause of human typhoid. Nat Commun, 7 pp. 12827. | Show Abstract | Read more

The population of Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi), the causative agent of typhoid fever, exhibits limited DNA sequence variation, which complicates efforts to rationally discriminate individual isolates. Here we utilize data from whole-genome sequences (WGS) of nearly 2,000 isolates sourced from over 60 countries to generate a robust genotyping scheme that is phylogenetically informative and compatible with a range of assays. These data show that, with the exception of the rapidly disseminating H58 subclade (now designated genotype 4.3.1), the global S. Typhi population is highly structured and includes dozens of subclades that display geographical restriction. The genotyping approach presented here can be used to interrogate local S. Typhi populations and help identify recent introductions of S. Typhi into new or previously endemic locations, providing information on their likely geographical source. This approach can be used to classify clinical isolates and provides a universal framework for further experimental investigations.

International Typhoid Consortium, Wong VK, Holt KE, Okoro C, Baker S, Pickard DJ, Marks F, Page AJ, Olanipekun G, Munir H et al. 2016. Molecular Surveillance Identifies Multiple Transmissions of Typhoid in West Africa. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (9), pp. e0004781. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The burden of typhoid in sub-Saharan African (SSA) countries has been difficult to estimate, in part, due to suboptimal laboratory diagnostics. However, surveillance blood cultures at two sites in Nigeria have identified typhoid associated with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) as an important cause of bacteremia in children. METHODS: A total of 128 S. Typhi isolates from these studies in Nigeria were whole-genome sequenced, and the resulting data was used to place these Nigerian isolates into a worldwide context based on their phylogeny and carriage of molecular determinants of antibiotic resistance. RESULTS: Several distinct S. Typhi genotypes were identified in Nigeria that were related to other clusters of S. Typhi isolates from north, west and central regions of Africa. The rapidly expanding S. Typhi clade 4.3.1 (H58) previously associated with multiple antimicrobial resistances in Asia and in east, central and southern Africa, was not detected in this study. However, antimicrobial resistance was common amongst the Nigerian isolates and was associated with several plasmids, including the IncHI1 plasmid commonly associated with S. Typhi. CONCLUSIONS: These data indicate that typhoid in Nigeria was established through multiple independent introductions into the country, with evidence of regional spread. MDR typhoid appears to be evolving independently of the haplotype H58 found in other typhoid endemic countries. This study highlights an urgent need for routine surveillance to monitor the epidemiology of typhoid and evolution of antimicrobial resistance within the bacterial population as a means to facilitate public health interventions to reduce the substantial morbidity and mortality of typhoid.

Chung The H, Rabaa MA, Pham Thanh D, De Lappe N, Cormican M, Valcanis M, Howden BP, Wangchuk S, Bodhidatta L, Mason CJ et al. 2016. South Asia as a Reservoir for the Global Spread of Ciprofloxacin-Resistant Shigella sonnei: A Cross-Sectional Study. PLoS Med, 13 (8), pp. e1002055. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial resistance is a major issue in the Shigellae, particularly as a specific multidrug-resistant (MDR) lineage of Shigella sonnei (lineage III) is becoming globally dominant. Ciprofloxacin is a recommended treatment for Shigella infections. However, ciprofloxacin-resistant S. sonnei are being increasingly isolated in Asia and sporadically reported on other continents. We hypothesized that Asia is a primary hub for the recent international spread of ciprofloxacin-resistant S. sonnei. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We performed whole-genome sequencing on a collection of 60 contemporaneous ciprofloxacin-resistant S. sonnei isolated in four countries within Asia (Vietnam, n = 11; Bhutan, n = 12; Thailand, n = 1; Cambodia, n = 1) and two outside of Asia (Australia, n = 19; Ireland, n = 16). We reconstructed the recent evolutionary history of these organisms and combined these data with their geographical location of isolation. Placing these sequences into a global phylogeny, we found that all ciprofloxacin-resistant S. sonnei formed a single clade within a Central Asian expansion of lineage III. Furthermore, our data show that resistance to ciprofloxacin within S. sonnei may be globally attributed to a single clonal emergence event, encompassing sequential gyrA-S83L, parC-S80I, and gyrA-D87G mutations. Geographical data predict that South Asia is the likely primary source of these organisms, which are being regularly exported across Asia and intercontinentally into Australia, the United States and Europe. Our analysis was limited by the number of S. sonnei sequences available from diverse geographical areas and time periods, and we cannot discount the potential existence of other unsampled reservoir populations of antimicrobial-resistant S. sonnei. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests that a single clone, which is widespread in South Asia, is likely driving the current intercontinental surge of ciprofloxacin-resistant S. sonnei and is capable of establishing endemic transmission in new locations. Despite being limited in geographical scope, our work has major implications for understanding the international transfer of antimicrobial-resistant pathogens, with S. sonnei acting as a tractable model for studying how antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative bacteria spread globally.

Moore CE, Giess A, Soeng S, Sar P, Kumar V, Nhoung P, Bousfield R, Turner P, Stoesser N, Day NPJ, Parry CM. 2016. Characterisation of Invasive Streptococcus pneumoniae Isolated from Cambodian Children between 2007 - 2012. PLoS One, 11 (7), pp. e0159358. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The 13-valent pneumococcal vaccine (PCV13) was introduced in Cambodia in January 2015. There are limited data concerning the common serotypes causing invasive pneumococcal disease (IPD). Knowledge of the circulating pneumococcal serotypes is important to monitor epidemiological changes before and after vaccine implementation. METHODS: All episodes of IPD defined by the isolation of Streptococcus pneumoniae from blood, cerebrospinal fluid or other sterile site in Cambodian children admitted to the Angkor Hospital for Children in Siem Reap, Northwestern Cambodia, between 1st January 2007 and 1st July 2012 were retrospectively studied. Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates that could be retrieved underwent phenotypic typing and whole genome sequencing. RESULTS: There were 90 Cambodian children hospitalized with IPD with a median (IQR) age of 2.3 years (0.9-6.2). The case fatality was 15.6% (95% CI 8-23). Of 50 Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates available for further testing, 46% were penicillin non-susceptible and 8% were ceftriaxone non-susceptible, 78% were cotrimoxazole resistant, 30% were erythromycin resistant and 30% chloramphenicol resistant. There were no significant changes in resistance levels over the five-year period. The most common serotypes were 1 (11/50; 22%), 23F (8/50; 16%), 14 (6/50; 12%), 5 (5/50; 10%) and 19A (3/50; 6%). Coverage by PCV7, PCV10 and PCV13 was 44%, 76% and 92% respectively. We identified novel multilocus sequence types and resistotypes using whole genome sequencing. CONCLUSIONS: This study suggests IPD is an important disease in Cambodian children and can have a significant mortality. PCV13 coverage of the serotypes determined in studied strains was high and consistent with another recent study. The phenotypic resistance patterns observed were similar to other regional studies. The use of whole genome sequencing in the present study provides additional typing and resistance information together with the description of novel sequence types and resistotypes.

Pholwat S, Sakai F, Turner P, Vidal JE, Houpt ER. 2016. Development of a TaqMan Array Card for Pneumococcal Serotyping on Isolates and Nasopharyngeal Samples. J Clin Microbiol, 54 (7), pp. 1842-1850. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is both a commensal and a major pathogen that causes invasive disease in people of all ages. The introduction of serotype-specific pneumococcal vaccines has reduced the burden of disease but has also led to replacement with new strains; thus, serotyping remains important for vaccine-related disease surveillance. Conventional serotyping methods are laborious and expensive. We developed an easy-to-perform genotypic TaqMan array card (TAC) to identify S. pneumoniae strains, including lytA-based sequences, and 53 sequence-specific PCRs to identify 74 serotypes/serogroups covering all current vaccine types as well as prevalent nonvaccine types. The TAC method was evaluated on 146 clinical S. pneumoniae isolates and 13 nonpneumococcal species that naturally inhabit the upper respiratory tract and yielded 97% (142/146) sensitivity and 100% (13/13) specificity versus results of standard Quellung serotyping. The calculated limit of detection was 20 to 200 fg (∼8 to 84 genome equivalents) per reaction. On 23 blinded nasopharyngeal specimens that were pneumococcus culture positive, the TAC pan-pneumococcus lytA assay was positive in 21 (91% sensitivity versus culture). On TAC lytA-positive specimens, a serotype result was obtained on 86%, and the result was 95% accurate versus the subsequent culture's Quellung result. TAC also detected mixed serotypes in two specimens where Quellung detected only the predominant serotype. This TAC method yields fast and comprehensive serotyping compared to the standard method and may be useful on direct specimens.

Pham Thanh D, Thompson CN, Rabaa MA, Sona S, Sopheary S, Kumar V, Moore C, Tran Vu Thieu N, Wijedoru L, Holt KE et al. 2016. The Molecular and Spatial Epidemiology of Typhoid Fever in Rural Cambodia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (6), pp. e0004785. | Show Abstract | Read more

Typhoid fever, caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi, is an endemic cause of febrile disease in Cambodia. The aim of this study was to better understand the epidemiology of pediatric typhoid fever in Cambodia. We accessed routine blood culture data from Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap province between 2007 and 2014, and performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) on the isolated bacteria to characterize the S. Typhi population. The resulting phylogenetic information was combined with conventional epidemiological approaches to investigate the spatiotemporal distribution of S. Typhi and population-level risk factors for reported disease. During the study period, there were 262 cases of typhoid within a 100 km radius of AHC, with a median patient age of 8.2 years (IQR: 5.1-11.5 years). The majority of infections occurred during the rainy season, and commune incidences as high as 11.36/1,000 in children aged <15 years were observed over the study period. A population-based risk factor analysis found that access to water within households and increasing distance from Tonle Sap Lake were protective. Spatial mapping and WGS provided additional resolution for these findings, and confirmed that proximity to the lake was associated with discrete spatiotemporal disease clusters. We confirmed the dominance of MDR H58 S. Typhi in this population, and found substantial evidence of diversification (at least seven sublineages) within this single lineage. We conclude that there is a substantial burden of pediatric typhoid fever in rural communes in Cambodia. Our data provide a platform for additional population-based typhoid fever studies in this location, and suggest that this would be a suitable setting in which to introduce a school-based vaccination programme with Vi conjugate vaccines.

Turner P, Pol S, Soeng S, Sar P, Neou L, Chea P, Day NP, Cooper BS, Turner C. 2016. High Prevalence of Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative Colonization in Hospitalized Cambodian Infants. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 35 (8), pp. 856-861. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative infections are a significant cause of mortality in young infants. We aimed to determine characteristics of, and risk factors for, colonization and invasive infection caused by 3rd generation cephalosporin (3GC) or carbapenem-resistant organisms in outborn infants admitted to a neonatal unit (NU) in Cambodia. METHODS: During the first year of operation, patients admitted to the Angkor Hospital for Children NU, Siem Reap, Cambodia, underwent rectal swabbing on admission and twice weekly until discharge. Swabs were taken also from 7 environmental sites. Swabs were cultured to identify 3GC or carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter sp., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. RESULTS: The study included 333 infants with a median age at NU admission of 10 days (range, 0-43). Colonization by ≥1 3GC-resistant organism was detected in 85.9% (286/333). Admission swabs were collected in 289 infants: 61.9% were colonized by a 3GC-resistant organism at the time of admission, and a further 23.2% were colonized during hospitalization, at a median of 4 days [95% confidence interval: 3-5]. Probiotic treatment (hazard ratio: 0.58; 95% confidence interval: 0.35-0.98) was associated with delayed colonization. Colonization by a carbapenem-resistant organism occurred in 25 (7.5%) infants. Six infants had NU-associated K. pneumoniae bacteremia; phenotypically identical colonizing strains were found in 3 infants. Environmental colonization occurred early. CONCLUSIONS: Colonization by antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative organisms occurred early in hospitalized Cambodian infants and was associated with subsequent invasive infection. Trials of potential interventions such as probiotics are needed.

Sheppard AE, Vaughan A, Jones N, Turner P, Turner C, Efstratiou A, Patel D, Modernising Medical Microbiology Informatics Group, Walker AS, Berkley JA et al. 2016. Capsular Typing Method for Streptococcus agalactiae Using Whole-Genome Sequence Data. J Clin Microbiol, 54 (5), pp. 1388-1390. | Show Abstract | Read more

Group B streptococcus (GBS) capsular serotypes are major determinants of virulence and affect potential vaccine coverage. Here we report a whole-genome-sequencing-based method for GBS serotype assignment. This method shows strong agreement (kappa of 0.92) with conventional methods and increased serotype assignment (100%) to all 10 capsular types.

Croucher NJ, Mostowy R, Wymant C, Turner P, Bentley SD, Fraser C. 2016. Horizontal DNA Transfer Mechanisms of Bacteria as Weapons of Intragenomic Conflict. PLoS Biol, 14 (3), pp. e1002394. | Show Abstract | Read more

Horizontal DNA transfer (HDT) is a pervasive mechanism of diversification in many microbial species, but its primary evolutionary role remains controversial. Much recent research has emphasised the adaptive benefit of acquiring novel DNA, but here we argue instead that intragenomic conflict provides a coherent framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of HDT. To test this hypothesis, we developed a mathematical model of a clonally descended bacterial population undergoing HDT through transmission of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) and genetic transformation. Including the known bias of transformation toward the acquisition of shorter alleles into the model suggested it could be an effective means of counteracting the spread of MGEs. Both constitutive and transient competence for transformation were found to provide an effective defence against parasitic MGEs; transient competence could also be effective at permitting the selective spread of MGEs conferring a benefit on their host bacterium. The coordination of transient competence with cell-cell killing, observed in multiple species, was found to result in synergistic blocking of MGE transmission through releasing genomic DNA for homologous recombination while simultaneously reducing horizontal MGE spread by lowering the local cell density. To evaluate the feasibility of the functions suggested by the modelling analysis, we analysed genomic data from longitudinal sampling of individuals carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae. This revealed the frequent within-host coexistence of clonally descended cells that differed in their MGE infection status, a necessary condition for the proposed mechanism to operate. Additionally, we found multiple examples of MGEs inhibiting transformation through integrative disruption of genes encoding the competence machinery across many species, providing evidence of an ongoing "arms race." Reduced rates of transformation have also been observed in cells infected by MGEs that reduce the concentration of extracellular DNA through secretion of DNases. Simulations predicted that either mechanism of limiting transformation would benefit individual MGEs, but also that this tactic's effectiveness was limited by competition with other MGEs coinfecting the same cell. A further observed behaviour we hypothesised to reduce elimination by transformation was MGE activation when cells become competent. Our model predicted that this response was effective at counteracting transformation independently of competing MGEs. Therefore, this framework is able to explain both common properties of MGEs, and the seemingly paradoxical bacterial behaviours of transformation and cell-cell killing within clonally related populations, as the consequences of intragenomic conflict between self-replicating chromosomes and parasitic MGEs. The antagonistic nature of the different mechanisms of HDT over short timescales means their contribution to bacterial evolution is likely to be substantially greater than previously appreciated.

Hearn P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Day NPJ, Turner P. 2016. Lack of Utility of Nasopharyngeal Swabs for Diagnosis of Burkholderia pseudomallei Pneumonia in Paediatric Patients. J Trop Pediatr, 62 (4), pp. 328-330. | Show Abstract | Read more

Diagnosis of Burkholderia pseudomallei pneumonia in children is challenging. We investigated the utility of nasopharyngeal swabs taken from 194 paediatric patients on admission with radiologically proven pneumonia. Melioidosis was proven in 0.5% of samples tested and only in a third of those known to be bacteraemic with B. pseudomallei. It appears unlikely that culture of nasopharyngeal secretions is helpful to confirm B. pseudomallei pneumonia in paediatric patients.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2016. Corrigendum: Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 6 (1), pp. 23307. | Read more

Stoesser N, Sheppard AE, Pankhurst L, De Maio N, Moore CE, Sebra R, Turner P, Anson LW, Kasarskis A, Batty EM et al. 2016. Evolutionary History of the Global Emergence of the Escherichia coli Epidemic Clone ST131. MBio, 7 (2), pp. e02162. | Show Abstract | Read more

UNLABELLED: Escherichia colisequence type 131 (ST131) has emerged globally as the most predominant extraintestinal pathogenic lineage within this clinically important species, and its association with fluoroquinolone and extended-spectrum cephalosporin resistance impacts significantly on treatment. The evolutionary histories of this lineage, and of important antimicrobial resistance elements within it, remain unclearly defined. This study of the largest worldwide collection (n= 215) of sequenced ST131E. coliisolates to date demonstrates that the clonal expansion of two previously recognized antimicrobial-resistant clades, C1/H30R and C2/H30Rx, started around 25 years ago, consistent with the widespread introduction of fluoroquinolones and extended-spectrum cephalosporins in clinical medicine. These two clades appear to have emerged in the United States, with the expansion of the C2/H30Rx clade driven by the acquisition of ablaCTX-M-15-containing IncFII-like plasmid that has subsequently undergone extensive rearrangement. Several other evolutionary processes influencing the trajectory of this drug-resistant lineage are described, including sporadic acquisitions of CTX-M resistance plasmids and chromosomal integration ofblaCTX-Mwithin subclusters followed by vertical evolution. These processes are also occurring for another family of CTX-M gene variants more recently observed among ST131, theblaCTX-M-14/14-likegroup. The complexity of the evolutionary history of ST131 has important implications for antimicrobial resistance surveillance, epidemiological analysis, and control of emerging clinical lineages ofE. coli These data also highlight the global imperative to reduce specific antibiotic selection pressures and demonstrate the important and varied roles played by plasmids and other mobile genetic elements in the perpetuation of antimicrobial resistance within lineages. IMPORTANCE: Escherichia coli, perennially a major bacterial pathogen, is becoming increasingly difficult to manage due to emerging resistance to all preferred antimicrobials. Resistance is concentrated within specificE. colilineages, such as sequence type 131 (ST131). Clarification of the genetic basis for clonally associated resistance is key to devising intervention strategies. We used high-resolution genomic analysis of a large global collection of ST131 isolates to define the evolutionary history of extended-spectrum beta-lactamase production in ST131. We documented diverse contributory genetic processes, including stable chromosomal integrations of resistance genes, persistence and evolution of mobile resistance elements within sublineages, and sporadic acquisition of different resistance elements. Both global distribution and regional segregation were evident. The diversity of resistance element acquisition and propagation within ST131 indicates a need for control and surveillance strategies that target both bacterial strains and mobile genetic elements.

Wihokhoen B, Dondorp AM, Turner P, Woodrow CJ, Imwong M. 2016. Use of Blood Smears and Dried Blood Spots for Polymerase Chain Reaction-Based Detection and Quantification of Bacterial Infection and Plasmodium falciparum in Severely Ill Febrile African Children. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 94 (2), pp. 322-326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Molecular approaches offer a means of testing archived samples stored as dried blood spots in settings where standard blood cultures are not possible. Peripheral blood films are one suggested source of material, although the sensitivity of this approach has not been well defined. Thin blood smears and dried blood spots from a severe pediatric malaria study were assessed using specific polymerase chain reaction (PCR) primers to detect non-typhoidal Salmonella (NTS; MisL gene), Streptococcus pneumoniae (lytA), and Plasmodium falciparum (18S rRNA). Of 16 cases of NTS and S. pneumoniae confirmed on blood culture, none were positive by PCR using DNA extracts from blood films or dried blood spots. In contrast, four of 36 dried blood spots and two of 178 plasma samples were PCR positive for S. pneumoniae, despite negative bacterial blood cultures, suggesting false positives. Quantitative assessment revealed that the effective concentration of P. falciparum DNA in blood films was three log orders of magnitude lower than for dried blood spots. The P. falciparum kelch13 gene could not be amplified from blood films. These findings question the value of blood PCR-based approaches for detection of NTS and S. pneumoniae, and show that stored blood films are an inefficient method of studying P. falciparum.

Chung The H, Rabaa MA, Thanh DP, Ruekit S, Wangchuk S, Dorji T, Tshering KP, Nguyen TNT, Vinh PV, Thanh TH et al. 2015. Introduction and establishment of fluoroquinolone-resistant Shigella sonnei into Bhutan. Microb Genom, 1 (6), pp. e000042. | Show Abstract | Read more

Shigella sonnei is a major contributor to the global burden of diarrhoeal disease, generally associated with dysenteric diarrhoea in developed countries but also emerging in developing countries. The reason for the recent success of S. sonnei is unknown, but is likely catalysed by its ability to acquire resistance against multiple antimicrobials. Between 2011 and 2013, S. sonnei exhibiting resistance to fluoroquinolones, the first-line treatment recommended for shigellosis, emerged in Bhutan. Aiming to reconstruct the introduction and establishment of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei populations in Bhutan, we performed whole-genome sequencing on 71 S. sonnei samples isolated in Bhutan between 2011 and 2013.We found that these strains represented an expansion of a clade within the previously described lineage III, found specifically in Central Asia. Temporal phylogenetic reconstruction demonstrated that all of the sequenced Bhutanese S. sonnei diverged from a single ancestor that was introduced into Bhutan around 2006. Our data additionally predicted that fluoroquinolone resistance, conferred by mutations in gyrA and parC, arose prior to the introduction of the founder strain into Bhutan. Once established in Bhutan, these S. sonnei had access to a broad gene pool, as indicated by the acquisition of extended-spectrum β-lactamase-encoding plasmids and genes encoding type IV pili. The data presented here outline a model for the introduction and maintenance of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei in a new setting. Given the current circulation of fluoroquinolone-resistant S. sonnei in Asia, we speculate that this pattern of introduction is being recapitulated across the region and beyond.

Turner P, Ngeth P, Turner C, Sao S, Day NPJ, Baker C, Steer AC, Smeesters PR. 2015. Molecular Epidemiology of Group A Streptococcus Infections in Cambodian Children, 2007-2012. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 34 (12), pp. 1414-1415. | Read more

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jintaworn S, Hanboonkunupakarn B, Richards AL, Day NPJ, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2015. Diagnostic Accuracy Assessment of Immunochromatographic Tests for the Rapid Detection of Antibodies Against Orientia tsutsugamushi Using Paired Acute and Convalescent Specimens. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 93 (6), pp. 1168-1171. | Show Abstract | Read more

We assessed the diagnostic accuracy of two immunochromatographic tests (ICTs), the Access Bio CareStart Scrub Typhus test (Somerset, NJ) (IgM), and the SD BIOLINE Tsutsugamushi test (Kyonggi-do, Republic of Korea) (IgG, IgM, or IgA) compared with indirect immunofluorescence assay (IFA) and real-time PCR results as reference tests using 86 paired acute and convalescent specimens from febrile patients. The sensitivity and specificity of the CareStart test were 23.3% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 11.8-38.6) and 81.4% (95% CI: 66.6-91.6), respectively, for acute specimens and 32.6% (95% CI: 19.1-48.5) and 79.1% (95% CI: 64.0-90.0), respectively, for convalescent specimens. For the SD BIOLINE test, sensitivity and specificity were 20.9% (95% CI: 10.0-36.0) and 74.4% (95% CI: 58.8-86.5), respectively, for acute specimens and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2) and 76.7% (95% CI: 61.4-88.2), respectively, for convalescent specimens. The poor sensitivity obtained for both ICTs during this study when performed on acute specimens highlights the difficulties in prompt diagnosis of scrub typhus.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Peto TJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Satzke C, Dunne EM, Porter BD, Klugman KP, Mulholland EK, PneuCarriage project group. 2015. The PneuCarriage Project: A Multi-Centre Comparative Study to Identify the Best Serotyping Methods for Examining Pneumococcal Carriage in Vaccine Evaluation Studies. PLoS Med, 12 (11), pp. e1001903. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The pneumococcus is a diverse pathogen whose primary niche is the nasopharynx. Over 90 different serotypes exist, and nasopharyngeal carriage of multiple serotypes is common. Understanding pneumococcal carriage is essential for evaluating the impact of pneumococcal vaccines. Traditional serotyping methods are cumbersome and insufficient for detecting multiple serotype carriage, and there are few data comparing the new methods that have been developed over the past decade. We established the PneuCarriage project, a large, international multi-centre study dedicated to the identification of the best pneumococcal serotyping methods for carriage studies. METHODS AND FINDINGS: Reference sample sets were distributed to 15 research groups for blinded testing. Twenty pneumococcal serotyping methods were used to test 81 laboratory-prepared (spiked) samples. The five top-performing methods were used to test 260 nasopharyngeal (field) samples collected from children in six high-burden countries. Sensitivity and positive predictive value (PPV) were determined for the test methods and the reference method (traditional serotyping of >100 colonies from each sample). For the alternate serotyping methods, the overall sensitivity ranged from 1% to 99% (reference method 98%), and PPV from 8% to 100% (reference method 100%), when testing the spiked samples. Fifteen methods had ≥70% sensitivity to detect the dominant (major) serotype, whilst only eight methods had ≥70% sensitivity to detect minor serotypes. For the field samples, the overall sensitivity ranged from 74.2% to 95.8% (reference method 93.8%), and PPV from 82.2% to 96.4% (reference method 99.6%). The microarray had the highest sensitivity (95.8%) and high PPV (93.7%). The major limitation of this study is that not all of the available alternative serotyping methods were included. CONCLUSIONS: Most methods were able to detect the dominant serotype in a sample, but many performed poorly in detecting the minor serotype populations. Microarray with a culture amplification step was the top-performing method. Results from this comprehensive evaluation will inform future vaccine evaluation and impact studies, particularly in low-income settings, where pneumococcal disease burden remains high.

Parry CM, Thieu NTV, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR, Ha V, Tran CN et al. 2015. Erratum for Parry et al., Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (7), pp. 4364. | Read more

Nic Fhogartaigh C, Dance DAB, Davong V, Tann P, Phetsouvanh R, Turner P, Dittrich S, Newton PN. 2015. A novel technique for detecting antibiotic-resistant typhoid from rapid diagnostic tests. J Clin Microbiol, 53 (5), pp. 1758-1760. | Show Abstract | Read more

Fluoroquinolone-resistant typhoid is increasing. An antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic test (RDT) can rapidly diagnose typhoid from blood cultures. A simple, inexpensive molecular technique performed with DNA from positive RDTs accurately identified gyrA mutations consistent with phenotypic susceptibility testing results. Field diagnosis combined with centralized molecular resistance testing could improve typhoid management and surveillance in low-resource settings.

Parry CM, Thieu NTV, Dolecek C, Karkey A, Gupta R, Turner P, Dance D, Maude RR, Ha V, Tran CN et al. 2015. Clinically and microbiologically derived azithromycin susceptibility breakpoints for Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi A. Antimicrob Agents Chemother, 59 (5), pp. 2756-2764. | Show Abstract | Read more

Azithromycin is an effective treatment for uncomplicated infections with Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi and serovar Paratyphi A (enteric fever), but there are no clinically validated MIC and disk zone size interpretative guidelines. We studied individual patient data from three randomized controlled trials (RCTs) of antimicrobial treatment in enteric fever in Vietnam, with azithromycin used in one treatment arm, to determine the relationship between azithromycin treatment response and the azithromycin MIC of the infecting isolate. We additionally compared the azithromycin MIC and the disk susceptibility zone sizes of 1,640 S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi A clinical isolates collected from seven Asian countries. In the RCTs, 214 patients who were treated with azithromycin at a dose of 10 to 20 mg/ml for 5 to 7 days were analyzed. Treatment was successful in 195 of 214 (91%) patients, with no significant difference in response (cure rate, fever clearance time) with MICs ranging from 4 to 16 μg/ml. The proportion of Asian enteric fever isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml was 1,452/1,460 (99.5%; 95% confidence interval [CI], 98.9 to 99.7) for S. Typhi and 207/240 (86.3%; 95% CI, 81.2 to 90.3) (P < 0.001) for S. Paratyphi A. A zone size of ≥ 13 mm to a 5-μg azithromycin disk identified S. Typhi isolates with an MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml with a sensitivity of 99.7%. An azithromycin MIC of ≤ 16 μg/ml or disk inhibition zone size of ≥ 13 mm enabled the detection of susceptible S. Typhi isolates that respond to azithromycin treatment. Further work is needed to define the response to treatment in S. Typhi isolates with an azithromycin MIC of >16 μg/ml and to determine MIC and disk breakpoints for S. Paratyphi A.

Herbert J, Thomas S, Brookes C, Turner C, Turner P, Nosten F, Le Doare K, Hudson M, Heath PT, Gorringe A, Taylor S. 2015. Antibody-mediated complement C3b/iC3b binding to group B Streptococcus in paired mother and baby serum samples in a refugee population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Clin Vaccine Immunol, 22 (3), pp. 319-326. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus agalactiae (group B streptococcus [GBS]) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis and meningitis. In this study, we determined antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b onto the bacterial cell surface of GBS serotypes Ia, Ib, II, III, and V. This was determined for 520 mother and umbilical cord serum sample pairs obtained at the time of birth from a population on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Antibody-mediated deposition of complement C3b/iC3b was detected to at least one serotype in 91% of mothers, despite a known carriage rate in this population of only 12%. Antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition corresponded to known carriage rates, with the highest levels of complement deposition observed onto the most prevalent serotype (serotype II) followed by serotypes Ia, III, V, and Ib. Finally, neonates born to mothers carrying serotype II GBS at the time of birth showed higher antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against serotype II GBS than neonates born to mothers with no serotype II carriage. Assessment of antibody-mediated C3b/iC3b deposition against GBS may provide insights into the seroepidemiology of anti-GBS antibodies in mothers and infants in different populations.

Wong VK, Baker S, Pickard DJ, Parkhill J, Page AJ, Feasey NA, Kingsley RA, Thomson NR, Keane JA, Weill F-X et al. 2015. Phylogeographical analysis of the dominant multidrug-resistant H58 clade of Salmonella Typhi identifies inter- and intracontinental transmission events. Nat Genet, 47 (6), pp. 632-639. | Show Abstract | Read more

The emergence of multidrug-resistant (MDR) typhoid is a major global health threat affecting many countries where the disease is endemic. Here whole-genome sequence analysis of 1,832 Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) identifies a single dominant MDR lineage, H58, that has emerged and spread throughout Asia and Africa over the last 30 years. Our analysis identifies numerous transmissions of H58, including multiple transfers from Asia to Africa and an ongoing, unrecognized MDR epidemic within Africa itself. Notably, our analysis indicates that H58 lineages are displacing antibiotic-sensitive isolates, transforming the global population structure of this pathogen. H58 isolates can harbor a complex MDR element residing either on transmissible IncHI1 plasmids or within multiple chromosomal integration sites. We also identify new mutations that define the H58 lineage. This phylogeographical analysis provides a framework to facilitate global management of MDR typhoid and is applicable to similar MDR lineages emerging in other bacterial species.

Turner P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Ly S, Miliya T, Goldblatt D, Day NPJ. 2015. Pneumococcal Infection among Children before Introduction of 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Cambodia. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (11), pp. 2080-2083. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination of children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was initiated in Cambodia in 2015. To determine baseline data, we collected samples from children in 2013 and 2014. PCV13 serotypes accounted for 62.7% of colonizing organisms in outpatients and 88.4% of invasive pneumococci overall; multidrug resistance was common. Thus, effectiveness of vaccination should be high.

Hearn P, Miliya T, Hor S, Sar V, Turner P. 2015. Necrotizing fasciitis complicating snakebite in Cambodia. IDCases, 2 (3), pp. 86-87. | Read more

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2015. Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11344. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries. Considerable global variation in the pneumococcal carriage prevalence has been observed and the ecological factors contributing to it are not yet fully understood. We use data from a cohort of infants in Asia to study the effects of climatic conditions on both acquisition and clearance rates of the bacterium, finding significantly higher transmissibility during the cooler and drier months. Conversely, the length of a colonization period is unaffected by the season. Independent carriage data from studies conducted on the African and North American continents suggest similar effects of the climate on the prevalence of this bacterium, which further validates the obtained results. Further studies could be important to replicate the findings and explain the mechanistic role of cooler and dry air in the physiological response to nasopharyngeal acquisition of the pneumococcus.

Hilty M, Wüthrich D, Salter SJ, Engel H, Campbell S, Sá-Leão R, de Lencastre H, Hermans P, Sadowy E, Turner P et al. 2014. Global phylogenomic analysis of nonencapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae reveals a deep-branching classic lineage that is distinct from multiple sporadic lineages. Genome Biol Evol, 6 (12), pp. 3281-3294. | Show Abstract | Read more

The surrounding capsule of Streptococcus pneumoniae has been identified as a major virulence factor and is targeted by pneumococcal conjugate vaccines (PCV). However, nonencapsulated S. pneumoniae (non-Ec-Sp) have also been isolated globally, mainly in carriage studies. It is unknown if non-Ec-Sp evolve sporadically, if they have high antibiotic nonsusceptiblity rates and a unique, specific gene content. Here, whole-genome sequencing of 131 non-Ec-Sp isolates sourced from 17 different locations around the world was performed. Results revealed a deep-branching classic lineage that is distinct from multiple sporadic lineages. The sporadic lineages clustered with a previously sequenced, global collection of encapsulated S. pneumoniae (Ec-Sp) isolates while the classic lineage is comprised mainly of the frequently identified multilocus sequences types (STs) ST344 (n = 39) and ST448 (n = 40). All ST344 and nine ST448 isolates had high nonsusceptiblity rates to β-lactams and other antimicrobials. Analysis of the accessory genome reveals that the classic non-Ec-Sp contained an increased number of mobile elements, than Ec-Sp and sporadic non-Ec-Sp. Performing adherence assays to human epithelial cells for selected classic and sporadic non-Ec-Sp revealed that the presence of a integrative conjugative element (ICE) results in increased adherence to human epithelial cells (P = 0.005). In contrast, sporadic non-Ec-Sp lacking the ICE had greater growth in vitro possibly resulting in improved fitness. In conclusion, non-Ec-Sp isolates from the classic lineage have evolved separately. They have spread globally, are well adapted to nasopharyngeal carriage and are able to coexist with Ec-Sp. Due to continued use of PCV, non-Ec-Sp may become more prevalent.

Salter SJ, Cox MJ, Turek EM, Calus ST, Cookson WO, Moffatt MF, Turner P, Parkhill J, Loman NJ, Walker AW. 2014. Reagent and laboratory contamination can critically impact sequence-based microbiome analyses. BMC Biol, 12 (1), pp. 87. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The study of microbial communities has been revolutionised in recent years by the widespread adoption of culture independent analytical techniques such as 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metagenomics. One potential confounder of these sequence-based approaches is the presence of contamination in DNA extraction kits and other laboratory reagents. RESULTS: In this study we demonstrate that contaminating DNA is ubiquitous in commonly used DNA extraction kits and other laboratory reagents, varies greatly in composition between different kits and kit batches, and that this contamination critically impacts results obtained from samples containing a low microbial biomass. Contamination impacts both PCR-based 16S rRNA gene surveys and shotgun metagenomics. We provide an extensive list of potential contaminating genera, and guidelines on how to mitigate the effects of contamination. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that caution should be advised when applying sequence-based techniques to the study of microbiota present in low biomass environments. Concurrent sequencing of negative control samples is strongly advised.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Sirén J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD, Corander J. 2014. Two-phase importance sampling for inference about transmission trees. Proc Biol Sci, 281 (1794), pp. 20141324. | Show Abstract | Read more

There has been growing interest in the statistics community to develop methods for inferring transmission pathways of infectious pathogens from molecular sequence data. For many datasets, the computational challenge lies in the huge dimension of the missing data. Here, we introduce an importance sampling scheme in which the transmission trees and phylogenies of pathogens are both sampled from reasonable importance distributions, alleviating the inference. Using this approach, arbitrary models of transmission could be considered, contrary to many earlier proposed methods. We illustrate the scheme by analysing transmissions of Streptococcus pneumoniae from household to household within a refugee camp, using data in which only a fraction of hosts is observed, but which is still rich enough to unravel the within-household transmission dynamics and pairs of households between whom transmission is plausible. We observe that while probability of direct transmission is low even for the most prominent cases of transmission, still those pairs of households are geographically much closer to each other than expected under random proximity.

Chewapreecha C, Marttinen P, Croucher NJ, Salter SJ, Harris SR, Mather AE, Hanage WP, Goldblatt D, Nosten FH, Turner C et al. 2014. Comprehensive identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with beta-lactam resistance within pneumococcal mosaic genes. PLoS Genet, 10 (8), pp. e1004547. | Show Abstract | Read more

Traditional genetic association studies are very difficult in bacteria, as the generally limited recombination leads to large linked haplotype blocks, confounding the identification of causative variants. Beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae arises readily as the bacteria can quickly incorporate DNA fragments encompassing variants that make the transformed strains resistant. However, the causative mutations themselves are embedded within larger recombined blocks, and previous studies have only analysed a limited number of isolates, leading to the description of "mosaic genes" as being responsible for resistance. By comparing a large number of genomes of beta-lactam susceptible and non-susceptible strains, the high frequency of recombination should break up these haplotype blocks and allow the use of genetic association approaches to identify individual causative variants. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels that could confer beta-lactam non-susceptibility using 3,085 Thai and 616 USA pneumococcal isolates as independent datasets for the variant discovery. The large sample sizes allowed us to narrow the source of beta-lactam non-susceptibility from long recombinant fragments down to much smaller loci comprised of discrete or linked SNPs. While some loci appear to be universal resistance determinants, contributing equally to non-susceptibility for at least two classes of beta-lactam antibiotics, some play a larger role in resistance to particular antibiotics. All of the identified loci have a highly non-uniform distribution in the populations. They are enriched not only in vaccine-targeted, but also non-vaccine-targeted lineages, which may raise clinical concerns. Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms underlying resistance will be essential for future use of genome sequencing to predict antibiotic sensitivity in clinical microbiology.

Dance DAB, Davong V, Soeng S, Phetsouvanh R, Newton PN, Turner P. 2014. Trimethoprim/sulfamethoxazole resistance in Burkholderia pseudomallei. Int J Antimicrob Agents, 44 (4), pp. 368-369. | Read more

Croucher NJ, Chewapreecha C, Hanage WP, Harris SR, McGee L, van der Linden M, Song J-H, Ko KS, de Lencastre H, Turner C et al. 2014. Evidence for soft selective sweeps in the evolution of pneumococcal multidrug resistance and vaccine escape. Genome Biol Evol, 6 (7), pp. 1589-1602. | Show Abstract | Read more

The multidrug-resistant Streptococcus pneumoniae Taiwan(19F)-14, or PMEN14, clone was first observed with a 19F serotype, which is targeted by the heptavalent polysaccharide conjugate vaccine (PCV7). However, "vaccine escape" PMEN14 isolates with a 19A serotype became an increasingly important cause of disease post-PCV7. Whole genome sequencing was used to characterize the recent evolution of 173 pneumococci of, or related to, PMEN14. This suggested that PMEN14 is a single lineage that originated in the late 1980s in parallel with the acquisition of multiple resistances by close relatives. One of the four detected serotype switches to 19A generated representatives of the sequence type (ST) 320 isolates that have been highly successful post-PCV7. A second produced an ST236 19A genotype with reduced resistance to β-lactams owing to alteration of pbp1a and pbp2x sequences through the same recombination that caused the change in serotype. A third, which generated a mosaic capsule biosynthesis locus, resulted in serotype 19A ST271 isolates. The rapid diversification through homologous recombination seen in the global collection was similarly observed in the absence of vaccination in a set of isolates from the Maela refugee camp in Thailand, a collection that also allowed variation to be observed within carriage through longitudinal sampling. This suggests that some pneumococcal genotypes generate a pool of standing variation that is sufficiently extensive to result in "soft" selective sweeps: The emergence of multiple mutants in parallel upon a change in selection pressure, such as vaccine introduction. The subsequent competition between these mutants makes this phenomenon difficult to detect without deep sampling of individual lineages.

Chewapreecha C, Harris SR, Croucher NJ, Turner C, Marttinen P, Cheng L, Pessia A, Aanensen DM, Mather AE, Page AJ et al. 2014. Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Nat Genet, 46 (3), pp. 305-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evasion of clinical interventions by Streptococcus pneumoniae occurs through selection of non-susceptible genomic variants. We report whole-genome sequencing of 3,085 pneumococcal carriage isolates from a 2.4-km(2) refugee camp. This sequencing provides unprecedented resolution of the process of recombination and its impact on population evolution. Genomic recombination hotspots show remarkable consistency between lineages, indicating common selective pressures acting at certain loci, particularly those associated with antibiotic resistance. Temporal changes in antibiotic consumption are reflected in changes in recombination trends, demonstrating rapid spread of resistance when selective pressure is high. The highest frequencies of receipt and donation of recombined DNA fragments were observed in non-encapsulated lineages, implying that this largely overlooked pneumococcal group, which is beyond the reach of current vaccines, may have a major role in genetic exchange and the adaptation of the species as a whole. These findings advance understanding of pneumococcal population dynamics and provide information for the design of future intervention strategies.

Khauv P, Turner P, Soeng C, Soeng S, Moore CE, Bousfield R, Stoesser N, Emary K, Thanh DP, Baker S et al. 2014. Ophthalmic infections in children presenting to Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap, Cambodia. BMC Res Notes, 7 (1), pp. 784. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Ophthalmic infections cause significant morbidity in Cambodian children but aetiologic data are scarce. We investigated the causes of acute eye infections in 54 children presenting to the ophthalmology clinic at Angkor Hospital for Children, Siem Reap between March and October 2012. FINDINGS: The median age at presentation was 3.6 years (range 6 days - 16.0 years). Forty two patients (77.8%) were classified as having an external eye infection, ten (18.5%) as ophthalmia neonatorum, and two (3.7%) as intra-ocular infection. Organisms were identified in all ophthalmia neonatorum patients and 85.7% of patients with an external eye infection. Pathogens were not detected in either of the intra-ocular infection patients. Most commonly isolated bacteria were Staphylococcus aureus (23 isolates), coagulase-negative staphylococci (13), coliforms (7), Haemophilus influenzae/parainfluenzae (6), Streptococcus pneumoniae (4), and Neisseria gonorrhoeae (2). Chlamydia trachomatis DNA was detected in 60% of swabs taken from ophthalmia neonatorum cases. CONCLUSIONS: This small study demonstrates the wide range of pathogens associated with common eye infections in Cambodian children. The inclusion of molecular assays improved the spectrum of detectable pathogens, most notably in neonates.

Chu CS, Winearls S, Ling C, Torchinsky MB, Phyo AP, Haohankunnathum W, Turner P, Wuthiekanun V, Nosten F. 2014. Two fatal cases of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border. F1000Res, 3 pp. 4. | Show Abstract | Read more

Melioidosis is endemic in areas of Southeast Asia, however, there are no published reports from the Thai-Myanmar border. We report the first two documented cases of fatal melioidosis in this region. This is of great public health importance and highlights the need to both increase clinical awareness of melioidosis on the Thai-Myanmar border, and to assess the true burden of disease in the area through improved case detection and Burkholderia pseudomallei prevalence studies.

Turner C, Turner P, Hoogenboom G, Aye Mya Thein N, McGready R, Phakaudom K, De Zoysa A, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2013. A three year descriptive study of early onset neonatal sepsis in a refugee population on the Thailand Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 601. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Each year an estimated four million neonates die, the majority in the first week of life. One of the major causes of death is sepsis. Proving the incidence and aetiology of neonatal sepsis is difficult, particularly in resource poor settings where the majority of the deaths occur. METHODS: We conducted a three year observational study of clinically diagnosed early onset (<7 days of age) neonatal sepsis (EONS) in infants born to mothers following antenatal care at the Shoklo Malaria Research Unit clinic in Maela camp for displaced persons on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Episodes of EONS were identified using a clinical case definition. Conventional and molecular microbiological techniques were employed in order to determine underlying aetiology. RESULTS: From April 2009 until April 2012, 187 infants had clinical signs of EONS, giving an incidence rate of 44.8 per 1000 live births (95% CI 38.7-51.5). One blood culture was positive for Escherichia coli, E. coli was detected in the cerebrospinal fluid specimen in this infant, and in an additional two infants, by PCR. Therefore, the incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was 0.7 per 1000 live births (95% CI 0.1-2.1). No infants enrolled in study died as a direct result of EONS. CONCLUSION: A low incidence of bacteriologically proven EONS was seen in this study, despite a high incidence of clinically diagnosed EONS. The use of molecular diagnostics and nonspecific markers of infection need to be studied in resource poor settings to improve the diagnosis of EONS and rationalise antibiotic use.

Satzke C, Turner P, Virolainen-Julkunen A, Adrian PV, Antonio M, Hare KM, Henao-Restrepo AM, Leach AJ, Klugman KP, Porter BD et al. 2013. Standard method for detecting upper respiratory carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae: updated recommendations from the World Health Organization Pneumococcal Carriage Working Group. Vaccine, 32 (1), pp. 165-179. | Show Abstract | Read more

In 2003 the World Health Organization (WHO) convened a working group and published a set of standard methods for studies measuring nasopharyngeal carriage of Streptococcus pneumoniae (the pneumococcus). The working group recently reconvened under the auspices of the WHO and updated the consensus standard methods. These methods describe the collection, transport and storage of nasopharyngeal samples, as well as provide recommendations for the identification and serotyping of pneumococci using culture and non-culture based approaches. We outline the consensus position of the working group, the evidence supporting this position, areas worthy of future research, and the epidemiological role of carriage studies. Adherence to these methods will reduce variability in the conduct of pneumococcal carriage studies undertaken in the context of pneumococcal vaccine trials, implementation studies, and epidemiology studies more generally so variability in methodology does not confound the interpretation of study findings.

Turner P, Turner C, Green N, Ashton L, Lwe E, Jankhot A, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Serum antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in the first 2 years of life: Results from an SE Asian longitudinal cohort study Clinical Microbiology and Infection, 19 (12), | Show Abstract | Read more

Assessment of antibody responses to pneumococcal colonization in early childhood may aid our understanding of protection and inform vaccine antigen selection. Serum samples were collected from mother-infant pairs during a longitudinal pneumococcal colonization study in Burmese refugees. Maternal and cord sera were collected at birth and infants were bled monthly (1-24 months of age). Nasopharyngeal swabs were taken monthly to detect colonization. Serum IgG titres to 27 pneumococcal protein antigens were measured in 2624 sera and IgG to dominant serotypes (6B, 14, 19F, 19A and 23F) were quantified in 864 infant sera. Antibodies to all protein antigens were detectable in maternal sera. Titres to four proteins (LytB, PcpA, PhtD and PhtE) were significantly higher in mothers colonized by pneumococci at delivery. Maternally-derived antibodies to PiuA and Spr0096 were associated with delayed pneumococcal acquisition in infants in univariate, but not multivariate models. Controlling for infant age and previous homologous serotype exposure, nasopharyngeal acquisition of serotypes 19A, 23F, 14 or 19F was associated significantly with a ≥2-fold antibody response to the homologous capsule (OR 12.84, 7.52, 6.52, 5.33; p < 0.05). Acquisition of pneumococcal serotypes in the nasopharynx of infants was not significantly associated with a ≥2-fold rise in antibodies to any of the protein antigens studied. In conclusion, nasopharyngeal colonization in young children resulted in demonstrable serum IgG responses to pneumococcal capsules and surface/virulence proteins. However, the relationship between serum IgG and the prevention of, or response to, pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization remains complex. Mechanisms other than serum IgG are likely to have a role but are currently poorly understood. ©2013 The Authors. Clinical Microbiology and Infection published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of the European Society of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases.

Turner P, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara V, Cicelia N, Deglise C, Phares C, Ortega L, Nosten F. 2013. Respiratory virus surveillance in hospitalised pneumonia patients on the Thailand-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 13 (1), pp. 434. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality in the developing world. Viruses contribute significantly to pneumonia burden, although data for low-income and tropical countries are scarce. The aim of this laboratory-enhanced, hospital-based surveillance was to characterise the epidemiology of respiratory virus infections among refugees living on the Thailand-Myanmar border. METHODS: Maela camp provides shelter for ~45,000 refugees. Inside the camp, a humanitarian organisation provides free hospital care in a 158-bed inpatient department (IPD). Between 1st April 2009 and 30th September 2011, all patients admitted to the IPD with a clinical diagnosis of pneumonia were invited to participate. Clinical symptoms and signs were recorded and a nasopharyngeal aspirate (NPA) collected. NPAs were tested for adenoviruses, human metapneumovirus (hMPV), influenza A & B, and RSV by PCR. RESULTS: Seven hundred eight patient episodes (698 patients) diagnosed as pneumonia during the enhanced surveillance period were included in this analysis. The median patient age was 1 year (range: < 1-70), and 90.4% were aged < 5 years. At least one virus was detected in 53.7% (380/708) of episodes. Virus detection was more common in children aged < 5 years old (<1 year: OR 2.0, 95% CI 1.2-3.4, p = 0.01; 1-4 years: OR 1.4, 95% CI 0.8-2.3, p = 0.2). RSV was detected in 176/708 (24.9%); an adenovirus in 133/708 (18.8%); an influenza virus in 68/708 (9.6%); and hMPV in 33/708 (4.7%). Twenty-eight episodes of multiple viral infections were identified, most commonly adenovirus plus another virus. RSV was more likely to be detected in children <5 years (OR 12.3, 95% CI 3.0-50.8, p = 0.001) and influenza viruses in patients ≥5 years (OR 2.8, 95% CI 1.5-5.4, p = 0.002). IPD treatment was documented in 702/708 cases; all but one patient received antimicrobials, most commonly a beta-lactam (amoxicillin/ampicillin +/-gentamicin in 664/701, 94.7%). CONCLUSIONS: Viral nucleic acid was identified in the nasopharynx in half the patients admitted with clinically diagnosed pneumonia. Development of immunisations targeting common respiratory viruses is likely to reduce the incidence of pneumonia in children living refugee camps and similar settings.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner C, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Richards AL, Bourzac KM, Blacksell SD, Nosten F. 2013. A prospective evaluation of real-time PCR assays for the detection of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections during the acute phase of undifferentiated febrile illness. Am J Trop Med Hyg, 89 (2), pp. 308-310. | Show Abstract | Read more

One hundred and eighty febrile patients were analyzed in a prospective evaluation of Orientia tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. real-time polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays for early diagnosis of rickettsial infections. By paired serology, 3.9% (7 of 180) and 6.1% (11 of 180) of patients were confirmed to have acute scrub or murine typhus, respectively. The PCR assays for the detection of O. tsutsugamushi and Rickettsia spp. had high specificity (99.4% [95% confidence interval (CI): 96.8-100] and 100% [95% CI: 97.8-100], respectively). The PCR results were also compared with immunoglobulin M (IgM) immunofluorescence assay (IFA) on acute sera. For O. tsutsugamushi, PCR sensitivity was twice that of acute specimen IgM IFA (28.6% versus 14.3%; McNemar's P = 0.3). For Rickettsia spp., PCR was four times as sensitive as acute specimen IgM IFA (36.4% versus 9.1%; P = 0.08), although this was not statistically significant. Whole blood and buffy coat, but not serum, were acceptable specimens for these PCRs. Further evaluation of these assays in a larger prospective study is warranted.

Turner C, Thein NAM, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Erratum to Rectal pH in well and unwell infants [J Trop Pediatr, 58 (2012) 311-313] Journal of Tropical Pediatrics, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Turner C, Mya Thein NA, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2013. Rectal pH in Well and Unwell Infants. J Trop Pediatr, 59 (2), pp. 162. | Read more

Turner C, Carrara V, Aye Mya Thein N, Chit Mo Mo Win N, Turner P, Bancone G, White NJ, McGready R, Nosten F. 2013. Neonatal intensive care in a Karen refugee camp: a 4 year descriptive study. PLoS One, 8 (8), pp. e72721. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: A third of all deaths in children aged <5 years occur in the neonatal period. Neonatal intensive care is often considered too complex and expensive to be implemented in resource poor settings. Consequently the reductions that have been made in infant mortality in the poorest countries have not been made in the neonatal period. This manuscript describes the activities surrounding the introduction of special care baby unit (SCBU) in a refugee setting and the resulting population impact. METHODS: A SCBU was developed in Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border. This unit comprised of a dedicated area, basic equipment, drugs and staff training. Training was built around neonatal guidelines, comprising six clinical steps: recognition, resuscitation, examination, supportive medical care, specialised medical care, and counselling of parents with sick newborns. RESULTS: From January 2008 until December 2011, 952 infants were admitted to SCBU. The main admission diagnoses were early onset neonatal sepsis, jaundice and prematurity. Early prematurity (<34 weeks) carried the highest risk of mortality (OR 9.5, 95% CI 5.4-16.5, p<0.001). There was a significant decrease in mortality from 19.3% (2008) to 4.8% (2011) among the infants admitted for prematurity (p=0.03). The neonatal mortality in Maela camp as a whole declined by 51% from 21.8 to 10.7 deaths per 1000 live births over the corresponding period (p=0.04). Staff expressed more confidence in their ability to take care of neonates and there was a more positive attitude towards premature infants. CONCLUSION: Neonatal mortality can be reduced in a resource poor setting by introduction of a simple low cost unit specialising in care of sick neonates and run by local health workers following adequate training. Training in recognition and provision of simple interventions at a high standard can increase staff confidence and reduce fatalistic attitudes towards premature neonates.

Turner C, Turner P, Carrara V, Burgoine K, Tha Ler Htoo S, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2013. High rates of pneumonia in children under two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 8 (1), pp. e54026. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: There are an estimated 150 million episodes of childhood pneumonia per year, with 11-20 million hospital admissions and 1.575 million deaths. Refugee children are particularly vulnerable, with poorly defined pneumonia epidemiology. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of 955 refugee infants, born over a one-year period, until two years of age. Clinical and radiographic pneumonia were diagnosed according to WHO criteria. Detailed characteristics were collected to determine risk factors for clinical, radiological and multiple episodes of pneumonia. Investigations were taken during a pneumonia episode to help determine or to infer an aetiological diagnosis. FINDINGS: The incidence of clinical pneumonia was 0.73 (95% CI 0.70-0.75) episodes per child year (/CY) and of radiological primary endpoint pneumonia (PEP) was 0.22/CY (95% CI 0.20-0.24). The incidence of pneumonia without severe signs was 0.50/CY (95% CI 0.48-0.53), severe pneumonia 0.15/CY (95% CI 0.13-0.17) and very severe pneumonia 0.06/CY (0.05-0.07). Virus was detected, from a nasopharyngeal aspirate, in 61.3% of episodes. A reduced volume of living space per person (IRR 0.99, 95% CI 0.99-1.0, p = 0.003) and young maternal age (IRR 1.59, 95% CI 1.12-2.27, p = 0.01) were risk factors for developing pneumonia. The risk of a child having >1 episode of pneumonia was increased by having a shorter distance to the next house (IRR 0.86, 95% CI 0.74-1.00, p = 0.04). Infants were at risk of having an episode of PEP if there was a shorter distance from stove to bed (IRR 0.89, 95% CI 0.80-0.99, p = 0.03). Raised CRP and neutrophil values were associated with PEP. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of pneumonia in young children in this SE Asian refugee population. Viral infections were important, however CXR and non-specific marker findings suggested that bacteria may be involved in up to a third of cases.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Phakaudom K, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2013. Field evaluation of culture plus latex sweep serotyping for detection of multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation in infants and young children. PLoS One, 8 (7), pp. e67933. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture by World Health Organisation (WHO) methodology underestimates multiple pneumococcal serotype colonisation compared to a simple culture and latex sweep method. The impacts of this on descriptions of pneumococcal serotype distributions and colonisation dynamics in infancy are not clear. METHODS: 8,736 NPS collected from infants enrolled into a longitudinal study were processed to evaluate the field utility of the latex sweep method. 1,107 had previously been cultured by WHO methodology. Additionally, colonisation results were compared in 100 matched pairs of infants, where swabs from an individual were cultured either by WHO or latex sweep method. RESULTS: In 1,107 swabs cultured by both methods, the latex sweep method was three times more likely to detect colonisation with multiple pneumococcal serotypes than the WHO method (p<0.001). At least one common serotype was identified in 91.2% of swabs from which typeable pneumococci were detected by both methods. Agreement improved with increasing colonisation density (p = 0.03). Estimates of age at first pneumococcal acquisition and colonisation duration were not affected by culture/serotyping method. However, a greater number of serotype carriage episodes were detected in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.03). The overall rate of non-vaccine type pneumococcal acquisition was also greater in infants cultured by latex sweep (p = 0.04). CONCLUSIONS: Latex sweep serotyping was feasible to perform on a large specimen collection. Multiple serotype colonisation detection was significantly improved compared with WHO methodology. However, use of the latex sweep method is unlikely to significantly alter colonisation study serotype distribution or colonisation dynamics results.

Turner P, Willemse C, Phakaudom K, Zin TW, Nosten F, McGready R. 2012. Aeromonas spp. bacteremia in pregnant women, Thailand-Myanmar border, 2011. Emerg Infect Dis, 18 (9), pp. 1522-1523. | Read more

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Htoo STL, Watthanaworawit W, Day N, White N, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. The epidemiology of pneumonia in a birth cohort of children living on the Thai-Myanmar border INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF INFECTIOUS DISEASES, 16 pp. E13-E13. | Read more

Turner C, Turner P, Po L, Maner N, De Zoysa A, Afshar B, Efstratiou A, Heath PT, Nosten F. 2012. Group B streptococcal carriage, serotype distribution and antibiotic susceptibilities in pregnant women at the time of delivery in a refugee population on the Thai-Myanmar border. BMC Infect Dis, 12 (1), pp. 34. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Group B Streptococcus (GBS) is the leading cause of neonatal sepsis in the developed world. Little is known about its epidemiology in the developing world, where the majority of deaths from neonatal infections occur. Maternal carriage of GBS is a prerequisite for the development of early onset GBS neonatal sepsis but there is a paucity of carriage data published from the developing world, in particular South East Asia. METHODS: We undertook a cross sectional study over a 13 month period in a remote South East Asian setting on the Thai-Myanmar border. During labour, 549 mothers had a combined vaginal rectal swab taken for GBS culture. All swabs underwent both conventional culture as well as PCR for GBS detection. Cultured GBS isolates were serotyped by latex agglutination, those that were negative or had a weak positive reaction and those that were PCR positive but culture negative were additionally tested using multiplex PCR based on the detection of GBS capsular polysaccharide genes. RESULTS: The GBS carriage rate was 12.0% (95% CI: 9.4-15.0), with 8.6% positive by both culture and PCR and an additional 3.5% positive by PCR alone. Serotypes, Ia, Ib, II, III, IV, V, VI and VII were identified, with II the predominant serotype. All GBS isolates were susceptible to penicillin, ceftriaxone and vancomycin and 43/47 (91.5%) were susceptible to erythromycin and clindamycin. CONCLUSIONS: GBS carriage is not uncommon in pregnant women living on the Thai-Myanmar border with a large range of serotypes represented.

Turner C, Turner P, Cararra V, Eh Lwe N, Watthanaworawit W, Day NP, White NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2012. A high burden of respiratory syncytial virus associated pneumonia in children less than two years of age in a South East Asian refugee population. PLoS One, 7 (11), pp. e50100. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumonia is a major cause of childhood mortality and morbidity approximately 1.6 million deaths and 150 million episodes occur annually in children <5 years. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) may be responsible for up to 25% of cases and 12% of deaths making it an important potential vaccine target, although data from South East Asia is scarce. METHODS: We followed a birth cohort of Burmese refugee children, born over a one year period, for two years. Pneumonia episodes were diagnosed using WHO criteria. A chest radiograph, nasopharyngeal aspirate and non-specific markers of infection were taken during each episode. RESULTS: The incidence of RSV-associated pneumonia was 0.24 (95% CI 0.22-0.26) episodes per child year. All children with pneumonia received antibiotic treatment, following WHO guidelines. The highest incidence was in the 2-12 month age group. The commonest diagnosis in a child with RSV-associated pneumonia was non-severe pneumonia (239/362:66.0%), however the incidence of RSV-associated severe or very severe pneumonia was 0.08 (95% CI 0.01-0.10) episodes per child year. Birth in the wet season increased the risk of severe disease in children who had their first episode of RSV-associated pneumonia aged 2-11 months (OR 28.7, 95% CI 6.6-125.0, p<0.001). RSV episodes were highly seasonal being responsible for 80.0% of all the pneumonia episodes occurring each October and November over the study period. CONCLUSIONS: There was a high incidence of RSV associated pneumonia in this refugee population. Interventions to prevent RSV infection have the potential to reduce the incidence of clinically diagnosed pneumonia and hence unnecessary antibiotic usage in this population.

Salter SJ, Hinds J, Gould KA, Lambertsen L, Hanage WP, Antonio M, Turner P, Hermans PWM, Bootsma HJ, O'Brien KL, Bentley SD. 2012. Variation at the capsule locus, cps, of mistyped and non-typable Streptococcus pneumoniae isolates. Microbiology, 158 (Pt 6), pp. 1560-1569. | Show Abstract | Read more

The capsule polysaccharide locus (cps) is the site of the capsule biosynthesis gene cluster in encapsulated Streptococcus pneumoniae. A set of pneumococcal samples and non-pneumococcal streptococci from Denmark, the Gambia, the Netherlands, Thailand, the UK and the USA were sequenced at the cps locus to elucidate serologically mistyped or non-typable isolates. We identified a novel serotype 33B/33C mosaic capsule cluster and previously unseen serotype 22F capsule genes, disrupted and deleted cps clusters, the presence of aliB and nspA genes that are unrelated to capsule production, and similar genes in the non-pneumococcal samples. These data provide greater understanding of diversity at a locus which is crucial to the antigenic diversity of the pathogen and current vaccine strategies.

Turner P, Turner C, Jankhot A, Helen N, Lee SJ, Day NP, White NJ, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. A longitudinal study of Streptococcus pneumoniae carriage in a cohort of infants and their mothers on the Thailand-Myanmar border. PLoS One, 7 (5), pp. e38271. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Pneumococcal disease is a major cause of childhood death. Almost a third of the world's children live in Southeast Asia, but there are few data from the region on pneumococcal colonization or disease. Our aim was to document the dynamics of pneumococcal carriage in a rural SE Asian birth cohort. METHODS: We studied 234 Karen mother-infant pairs in Northwestern Thailand. Infants were followed from birth and nasopharyngeal swabs were taken from mother and infant at monthly intervals until 24 months old. RESULTS: 8,386 swabs were cultured and 4,396 pneumococci characterized. Infants became colonized early (median 45.5 days; 95% confidence interval [CI] 44.5-46.0) and by 24 months had a median of seven (range 0-15) carriage episodes. Maternal smoking and young children in the house were associated with earlier colonization (hazard ratio [HR] 1.5 (95% CI 1.1-2.1) and 1.4 (95% CI 1.0-1.9)). For the four commonest serotypes and non-typeable pneumococci, previous exposure to homologous or heterologous serotypes resulted in an extended interval to reacquisition of the same serotype. Previous colonization by serotypes 14 and 19F was also associated with reduced carriage duration if subsequently reacquired (HR [first reacquisition] 4.1 (95% CI 1.4-12.6) and 2.6 (1.5-4.7)). Mothers acquired pneumococci less frequently, and carried them for shorter periods, than infants (acquisition rate 0.5 vs. 1.1 /100 person-days, p<0.001; median duration 31.0 vs. 60.5 days, p = 0.001). 55.8% of pneumococci from infants were vaccine serotypes (13-valent pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, PCV13), compared with 27.5% from mothers (p<0.001). Non-typeable pneumococcal carriage was common, being carried at least once by 55.1% of infants and 32.0% of mothers. CONCLUSIONS: Pneumococcal carriage frequency and duration are influenced by previous exposure to both homologous and heterologous serotypes. These data will inform vaccination strategies in this population.

Turner P, Melchiorre S, Moschioni M, Barocchi MA, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, Kaewcharernnet N, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2012. Assessment of Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 prevalence in carried and transmitted isolates from mother-infant pairs on the Thailand-Burma border. Clin Microbiol Infect, 18 (10), pp. 970-975. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae pilus islet-1 (PI-1)-encoded pilus enhances in vitro adhesion to the respiratory epithelium and may contribute to pneumococcal nasopharyngeal colonization and transmission. The pilus subunits are regarded as potential protein vaccine candidates. In this study, we sought to determine PI-1 prevalence in carried pneumococcal isolates and explore its relationship with transmissibility or carriage duration. We studied 896 pneumococcal isolates collected during a longitudinal carriage study that included monthly nasopharyngeal swabbing of 234 infants and their mothers between the ages of 1 and 24 months. These were cultured according to the WHO pneumococcal carriage detection protocol. PI-1 PCR and genotyping by multilocus sequence typing were performed on isolates chosen according to specific carriage and transmission definitions. Overall, 35.2% of the isolates were PI-1-positive, but PI-1 presence was restricted to ten of the 34 serotypes studied and was most frequently associated with serotypes 19F and 23F; 47.5% of transmitted and 43.3% of non-transmitted isolates were PI-1-positive (OR 1.2; 95% CI 0.8-1.7; p 0.4). The duration of first-ever infant pneumococcal carriage was significantly longer with PI-1-positive organisms, but this difference was not significant at the individual serotype level. In conclusion, PI-1 is commonly found in pneumococcal carriage isolates, but does not appear to be associated with pneumococcal transmissibility or carriage duration.

Turner C, Aye Mya Thein N, Turner P, Nosten F, White NJ. 2012. Rectal pH in well and unwell infants. J Trop Pediatr, 58 (4), pp. 311-313. | Show Abstract | Read more

Prompt antibiotic treatment for infants with sepsis has the potential to save lives. A rectal formulation of an antibiotic could be used at a village level before referral to hospital. The development of such a preparation needs to take into account the rectal pH of infants that will affect drug partitioning and absorption. Rectal pH measurements were taken in 100 well and 45 unwell infants. We also measured rectal pH in 14 infants sequentially over the course of their illness. The mean rectal pH was 6.75 with no significant difference in well or unwell infants. The mean (95% CI) rectal pH of well neonates was significantly lower than that of older infants (>28 days): 6.47 (6.29-6.65) vs. 6.90 (6.68 to 7.12) p = 0.003.

Turner P, Turner C, Kaewcharernnet N, Mon NY, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. A prospective study of urinary pneumococcal antigen detection in healthy Karen mothers with high rates of pneumococcal nasopharyngeal carriage. BMC Infect Dis, 11 (1), pp. 108. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae C-polysaccharide in urine is a useful rapid diagnostic test for pneumococcal infections in adults. In young children, high rates of false positive results have been documented due to detection of concurrent nasopharyngeal pneumococcal carriage. The relationship between pneumococcal carriage and urinary antigen detection in adults from developing countries with high pneumococcal carriage prevalence has not been well established. METHODS: We nested an evaluation of the BinaxNOW S. pneumoniae test within a longitudinal mother-infant pneumococcal carriage study in Karen refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border. Paired urine and nasopharyngeal swab specimens were collected from 98 asymptomatic women at a routine study follow-up visit. The urine specimens were analyzed with the BinaxNOW test and the nasopharyngeal swabs were semi-quantitatively cultured to identify pneumococcal colonization. RESULTS: 24/98 (25%) women were colonized by S. pneumoniae but only three (3%) had a positive BinaxNOW urine test. The sensitivity of the BinaxNOW test for detection of pneumococcal colonization was 4.2% (95% CI: 0.1-21.1%) with a specificity of 97.3% (95% CI: 90.6-99.7%). Pneumococcal colonization was not associated with having a positive BinaxNOW test (odds ratio 1.6; 95% CI: 0.0-12.7; p=0.7). CONCLUSIONS: Significant numbers of false positive results are unlikely to be encountered when using the BinaxNOW test to diagnose pneumococcal infection in adults from countries with moderate to high rates of pneumococcal colonization.

Turner P, Po L, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F. 2011. Detection of respiratory viruses by PCR assay of nasopharyngeal swabs stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol transport medium. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (6), pp. 2311-2313. | Show Abstract | Read more

We analyzed 129 paired nasopharyngeal aspirates (stored in viral transport medium [VTM]) and nasopharyngeal swabs (stored in skim milk-tryptone-glucose-glycerol [STGG] bacterial transport and storage medium) using PCRs to detect adenoviruses, influenza virus A or B, and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). Overall, swabs stored in STGG medium without antimicrobials were found to be an acceptable alternative to aspirates stored in antimicrobial-containing VTM, with PCR agreement of 90.2% (kappa of 0.8).

Turner P, Hinds J, Turner C, Jankhot A, Gould K, Bentley SD, Nosten F, Goldblatt D. 2011. Improved detection of nasopharyngeal cocolonization by multiple pneumococcal serotypes by use of latex agglutination or molecular serotyping by microarray. J Clin Microbiol, 49 (5), pp. 1784-1789. | Show Abstract | Read more

Identification of Streptococcus pneumoniae in the nasopharynx is critical for an understanding of transmission, estimates of vaccine efficacy, and possible replacement disease. Conventional nasopharyngeal swab (NPS) culture and serotyping (the WHO protocol) is likely to underestimate multiple-serotype carriage. We compared the WHO protocol with methods aimed at improving cocolonization detection. One hundred twenty-five NPSs from an infant pneumococcal-carriage study, containing ≥ 1 serotype by WHO culture, were recultured in duplicate. A sweep of colonies from one plate culture was serotyped by latex agglutination. DNA extracted from the second plate was analyzed by S. pneumoniae molecular-serotyping microarray. Multiple serotypes were detected in 11.2% of the swabs by WHO culture, 43.2% by sweep serotyping, and 48.8% by microarray. Sweep and microarray were more likely to detect multiple serotypes than WHO culture (P < 0.0001). Cocolonization detection rates were similar between microarray and sweep, but the microarray identified the greatest number of serotypes. A common serogroup type was identified in 95.2% of swabs by all methods. WHO methodology significantly underestimates multiple-serotype carriage compared to these alternate methods. Sweep serotyping is cost-effective and field deployable but may fail to detect serotypes at low abundance, whereas microarray serotyping is more costly and technology dependent but may detect these additional minor carried serotypes.

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Scopus

Ashley EA, Lubell Y, White NJ, Turner P. 2011. Antimicrobial susceptibility of bacterial isolates from community acquired infections in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asian low and middle income countries Tropical Medicine and International Health, 16 (9), pp. 1167-1179. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective Antimicrobial resistance has arisen across the globe in both nosocomial and community settings as a consequence of widespread antibiotic consumption. Poor availability of laboratory diagnosis means that resistance frequently goes unrecognised and may only be detected as clinical treatment failure. In this review, we provide an overview of the reported susceptibility of common community acquired bacterial pathogens in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to the antibiotics that are most widely used in these areas. Methods We reviewed the literature for reports of the susceptibility of prevalent pathogens in the community in SSA and Asia to a range of commonly prescribed antibiotics. Inclusion criteria required that isolates were collected since 2004 and that they were obtained from either normally sterile sites or urine. The data were aggregated by region and by age group. Results Eighty-three studies were identified since 2004 which reported the antimicrobial susceptibilities of common bacterial pathogens. Different methods were used to assess in-vitro susceptibility in the different studies. The quality of testing (evidenced by resistance profiles) also varied considerably. For Streptococcus pneumoniae and Neisseria meningitidis most drugs maintained relatively high efficacy, apart from co-trimoxazole to which there were high levels of resistance in most of the pathogens surveyed. Conclusions Compared with the enormous infectious disease burden and widespread use of antibiotics there are relatively few reliable data on an timicrobial susceptibility from tropical Asia and Africa upon which to draw firm conclusions, although it is evident that many commonly used antibiotics face considerable resistance in prevalent bacterial pathogens. This is likely to exacerbate morbidity and mortality. Investment in improved antimicrobial susceptibility testing and surveillance systems is likely to be a highly cost-effective strategy and should be complemented by centralized and readily accessible information resources. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Lubell Y, Turner P, Ashley EA, White NJ. 2011. Susceptibility of bacterial isolates from community-acquired infections in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to macrolide antibiotics Tropical Medicine and International Health, 16 (10), pp. 1192-1205. | Show Abstract | Read more

Objective To review the literature on the susceptibility of common community pathogens in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia to the macrolide antibiotics. Methods Inclusion criteria required that isolates were collected since 2004 to ensure results were of contemporary relevance. The data were aggregated by region, age group and sterility of site of culture sample. Results A total of 51 studies were identified, which reported the macrolide antimicrobial susceptibilities of common bacterial pathogens isolated since 2004. In general, there was less macrolide resistance in African than in Asian isolates. Most African studies reported high levels of macrolide susceptibility in Streptococcus pneumoniae, whereas most Chinese studies reported high levels of resistance. There was very little information available for Gram-negative organisms. Conclusions Susceptibility of the pneumococcus to macrolides in SSA remains high in many areas, and good activity of azithromycin has been shown against Salmonellae spp. in Asia. In urban areas where high antibiotic consumption is prevalent, there was evidence of increased resistance to macrolides. However, there is no information on susceptibility from large areas in both continents. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

Watthanaworawit W, Turner P, Turner CL, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Jarman RG, Blacksell SD, Nosten FH. 2011. A prospective evaluation of diagnostic methodologies for the acute diagnosis of dengue virus infection on the Thailand-Myanmar border Transactions of the Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 105 (1), pp. 32-37. | Show Abstract | Read more

Clinically useful diagnostic tests of dengue virus infection are lacking. We prospectively evaluated the performance of real-time reverse transcriptase (rRT)-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests to confirm dengue virus infection in acute blood specimens from 162 patients presenting with undifferentiated febrile illness compatible with dengue infection. rRT-PCR was the most sensitive test (89%) and potentially could be used as a single test for confirmation of dengue infection. NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody were not sufficiently sensitive to be used as a single confirmatory test with sensitivities of 54% and 17% respectively. The specificities of rRT-PCR, NS-1 antigen and IgM antibody tests were 96%, 100% and 88% respectively. Combining NS-1 and rRT-PCR or the combination of all three tests resulted in the highest sensitivity (93%) but specificities dropped to 96% and 83% respectively. We conclude that at least the combination of two tests, either agent detection (rRT-PCR) or antigen detection (NS-1) plus IgM antibody detection should be used for laboratory confirmation of dengue infection. © 2010 Royal Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene.

Lubell Y, Ashley EA, Turner C, Turner P, White NJ. 2011. Susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens to antibiotics in Africa and Asia in neonates--an alarmingly short review. Trop Med Int Health, 16 (2), pp. 145-151. | Show Abstract | Read more

OBJECTIVE: To assess the susceptibility of community-acquired pathogens in neonatal sepsis to commonly prescribed antibiotics in sub-Saharan Africa and Asia since 2002. METHODS: Literature review in PubMed and Embase. Susceptibility was estimated for pathogens individually and stratified by region. Isolates were also classified into Gram positive and Gram negative pathogens to estimate their pooled susceptibility. RESULTS AND CONCLUSIONS: Only nine studies met the inclusion criteria. The available data indicated poor susceptibility to almost all commonly used antibiotics in pathogens such as Staphylococcus aureus and Klebsiella spp. Only Streptococcus pneumoniae exhibited good susceptibility to all drugs other than cotrimoxazole. The extreme scarcity of data prevents drawing any firm conclusions beyond the urgent need for more studies to identify the best treatments for neonatal sepsis in the developing world.

Turner P, Turner CL, Watthanaworawit W, Carrara VI, Kapella BK, Painter J, Nosten FH. 2010. Influenza in refugees on the Thailand-Myanmar border, May-October 2009. Emerg Infect Dis, 16 (9), pp. 1366-1372. | Show Abstract | Read more

We describe the epidemiology of influenza virus infections in refugees in a camp in rural Southeast Asia during May-October 2009, the first 6 months after identification of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in Thailand. Influenza A viruses were detected in 20% of patients who had influenza-like illness and in 23% of those who had clinical pneumonia. Seasonal influenza A (H1N1) was the predominant virus circulating during weeks 26-33 (June 25-August 29) and was subsequently replaced by the pandemic strain. A review of passive surveillance for acute respiratory infection did not show an increase in acute respiratory tract infection incidence associated with the arrival of pandemic (H1N1) 2009 in the camp.

Harris KA, Turner P, Green EA, Hartley JC. 2008. Duplex real-time PCR assay for detection of Streptococcus pneumoniae in clinical samples and determination of penicillin susceptibility. J Clin Microbiol, 46 (8), pp. 2751-2758. | Show Abstract | Read more

We have developed a duplex real-time PCR for the rapid diagnosis of Streptococcus pneumoniae infection from culture-negative clinical samples with the simultaneous determination of penicillin susceptibility. The assay amplifies a lytA gene target and a penicillin binding protein 2b (pbp2b) gene target in penicillin-susceptible organisms. The assay was shown to be sensitive (detects 0.5 CFU per PCR) and specific for the detection of S. pneumoniae DNA. The assay was validated by comparing pbp2b PCR results with MIC data for 27 S. pneumoniae isolates. All 5 isolates with penicillin MICs of > 1.0 mg/liter were pbp2b real-time PCR negative, as were 9 of the 10 isolates with penicillin MICs of 0.12 to 1.0 mg/liter. One isolate with a penicillin MIC of 0.12 to 1.0 mg/liter gave an equivocal pbp2b real-time PCR result. Twelve isolates were penicillin susceptible (MICs of < or = 0.06 mg/liter) and pbp2b real-time PCR positive. These data were used to establish an algorithm for the interpretation of penicillin susceptibility from the duplex PCR result. pbp2b real-time PCR results were also compared to an established PCR-restriction fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) method previously applied to these 27 isolates and 46 culture-negative clinical samples (containing S. pneumoniae DNA by broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR). Discordant results were seen for four isolates and six culture-negative clinical samples, as PCR-RFLP could not reliably detect penicillin MICs of 0.12 to 1.0 mg/liter. We report prospective application of the duplex PCR assay to the diagnosis of S. pneumoniae infection from 200 culture-negative clinical specimens sent to the laboratory for diagnostic broad-range 16S rRNA gene PCR. One hundred six were negative in the duplex PCR. Ninety-four were lytA PCR positive, and 70 of these were also pbp2b PCR positive and interpreted as penicillin susceptible. Fourteen were pbp2b PCR negative and interpreted as having reduced susceptibility to penicillin. For the remaining 10 samples, susceptibility to penicillin was not determined.

Salter SJ, Turner C, Watthanaworawit W, de Goffau MC, Wagner J, Parkhill J, Bentley SD, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Turner P. 2017. A longitudinal study of the infant nasopharyngeal microbiota: The effects of age, illness and antibiotic use in a cohort of South East Asian children. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 11 (10), pp. e0005975. | Show Abstract | Read more

A longitudinal study was undertaken in infants living in the Maela refugee camp on the Thailand-Myanmar border between 2007 and 2010. Nasopharyngeal swabs were collected monthly, from birth to 24 months of age, with additional swabs taken if the infant was diagnosed with pneumonia according to WHO clinical criteria. At the time of collection, swabs were cultured for Streptococcus pneumoniae and multiple serotype carriage was assessed. The bacterial 16S rRNA gene profiles of 544 swabs from 21 infants were analysed to see how the microbiota changes with age, respiratory infection, antibiotic consumption and pneumococcal acquisition. The nasopharyngeal microbiota is a somewhat homogenous community compared to that of other body sites. In this cohort it is dominated by five taxa: Moraxella, Streptococcus, Haemophilus, Corynebacterium and an uncharacterized Flavobacteriaceae taxon of 93% nucleotide similarity to Ornithobacterium. Infant age correlates with certain changes in the microbiota across the cohort: Staphylococcus and Corynebacterium are associated with the first few months of life while Moraxella and the uncharacterised Flavobacteriaceae increase in proportional abundance with age. Respiratory illness and antibiotic use often coincide with an unpredictable perturbation of the microbiota that differs from infant to infant and in different illness episodes. The previously described interaction between Dolosigranulum and Streptococcus was observed in these data. Monthly sampling demonstrates that the nasopharyngeal microbiota is in flux throughout the first two years of life, and that in this refugee camp population the pool of potential bacterial colonisers may be limited.

Lees JA, Croucher NJ, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Parkhill J, Turner C, Turner P, Bentley SD. 2017. Genome-wide identification of lineage and locus specific variation associated with pneumococcal carriage duration. Elife, 6 | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a leading cause of invasive disease in infants, especially in low-income settings. Asymptomatic carriage in the nasopharynx is a prerequisite for disease, but variability in its duration is currently only understood at the serotype level. Here we developed a model to calculate the duration of carriage episodes from longitudinal swab data, and combined these results with whole genome sequence data. We estimated that pneumococcal genomic variation accounted for 63% of the phenotype variation, whereas the host traits considered here (age and previous carriage) accounted for less than 5%. We further partitioned this heritability into both lineage and locus effects, and quantified the amount attributable to the largest sources of variation in carriage duration: serotype (17%), drug-resistance (9%) and other significant locus effects (7%). A pan-genome-wide association study identified prophage sequences as being associated with decreased carriage duration independent of serotype, potentially by disruption of the competence mechanism. These findings support theoretical models of pneumococcal competition and antibiotic resistance.

Lehtinen S, Blanquart F, Croucher NJ, Turner P, Lipsitch M, Fraser C. 2017. Evolution of antibiotic resistance is linked to any genetic mechanism affecting bacterial duration of carriage. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A, 114 (5), pp. 1075-1080. | Show Abstract | Read more

Understanding how changes in antibiotic consumption affect the prevalence of antibiotic resistance in bacterial pathogens is important for public health. In a number of bacterial species, including Streptococcus pneumoniae, the prevalence of resistance has remained relatively stable despite prolonged selection pressure from antibiotics. The evolutionary processes allowing the robust coexistence of antibiotic sensitive and resistant strains are not fully understood. While allelic diversity can be maintained at a locus by direct balancing selection, there is no evidence for such selection acting in the case of resistance. In this work, we propose a mechanism for maintaining coexistence at the resistance locus: linkage to a second locus that is under balancing selection and that modulates the fitness effect of resistance. We show that duration of carriage plays such a role, with long duration of carriage increasing the fitness advantage gained from resistance. We therefore predict that resistance will be more common in strains with a long duration of carriage and that mechanisms maintaining diversity in duration of carriage will also maintain diversity in antibiotic resistance. We test these predictions in S. pneumoniae and find that the duration of carriage of a serotype is indeed positively correlated with the prevalence of resistance in that serotype. These findings suggest heterogeneity in duration of carriage is a partial explanation for the coexistence of sensitive and resistant strains and that factors determining bacterial duration of carriage will also affect the prevalence of resistance.

Pham Thanh D, Thompson CN, Rabaa MA, Sona S, Sopheary S, Kumar V, Moore C, Tran Vu Thieu N, Wijedoru L, Holt KE et al. 2016. The Molecular and Spatial Epidemiology of Typhoid Fever in Rural Cambodia. PLoS Negl Trop Dis, 10 (6), pp. e0004785. | Show Abstract | Read more

Typhoid fever, caused by the bacterium Salmonella Typhi, is an endemic cause of febrile disease in Cambodia. The aim of this study was to better understand the epidemiology of pediatric typhoid fever in Cambodia. We accessed routine blood culture data from Angkor Hospital for Children (AHC) in Siem Reap province between 2007 and 2014, and performed whole genome sequencing (WGS) on the isolated bacteria to characterize the S. Typhi population. The resulting phylogenetic information was combined with conventional epidemiological approaches to investigate the spatiotemporal distribution of S. Typhi and population-level risk factors for reported disease. During the study period, there were 262 cases of typhoid within a 100 km radius of AHC, with a median patient age of 8.2 years (IQR: 5.1-11.5 years). The majority of infections occurred during the rainy season, and commune incidences as high as 11.36/1,000 in children aged <15 years were observed over the study period. A population-based risk factor analysis found that access to water within households and increasing distance from Tonle Sap Lake were protective. Spatial mapping and WGS provided additional resolution for these findings, and confirmed that proximity to the lake was associated with discrete spatiotemporal disease clusters. We confirmed the dominance of MDR H58 S. Typhi in this population, and found substantial evidence of diversification (at least seven sublineages) within this single lineage. We conclude that there is a substantial burden of pediatric typhoid fever in rural communes in Cambodia. Our data provide a platform for additional population-based typhoid fever studies in this location, and suggest that this would be a suitable setting in which to introduce a school-based vaccination programme with Vi conjugate vaccines.

Turner P, Pol S, Soeng S, Sar P, Neou L, Chea P, Day NP, Cooper BS, Turner C. 2016. High Prevalence of Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative Colonization in Hospitalized Cambodian Infants. Pediatr Infect Dis J, 35 (8), pp. 856-861. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative infections are a significant cause of mortality in young infants. We aimed to determine characteristics of, and risk factors for, colonization and invasive infection caused by 3rd generation cephalosporin (3GC) or carbapenem-resistant organisms in outborn infants admitted to a neonatal unit (NU) in Cambodia. METHODS: During the first year of operation, patients admitted to the Angkor Hospital for Children NU, Siem Reap, Cambodia, underwent rectal swabbing on admission and twice weekly until discharge. Swabs were taken also from 7 environmental sites. Swabs were cultured to identify 3GC or carbapenem-resistant Acinetobacter sp., Escherichia coli, Klebsiella pneumoniae and Pseudomonas aeruginosa. RESULTS: The study included 333 infants with a median age at NU admission of 10 days (range, 0-43). Colonization by ≥1 3GC-resistant organism was detected in 85.9% (286/333). Admission swabs were collected in 289 infants: 61.9% were colonized by a 3GC-resistant organism at the time of admission, and a further 23.2% were colonized during hospitalization, at a median of 4 days [95% confidence interval: 3-5]. Probiotic treatment (hazard ratio: 0.58; 95% confidence interval: 0.35-0.98) was associated with delayed colonization. Colonization by a carbapenem-resistant organism occurred in 25 (7.5%) infants. Six infants had NU-associated K. pneumoniae bacteremia; phenotypically identical colonizing strains were found in 3 infants. Environmental colonization occurred early. CONCLUSIONS: Colonization by antimicrobial-resistant Gram-negative organisms occurred early in hospitalized Cambodian infants and was associated with subsequent invasive infection. Trials of potential interventions such as probiotics are needed.

Croucher NJ, Mostowy R, Wymant C, Turner P, Bentley SD, Fraser C. 2016. Horizontal DNA Transfer Mechanisms of Bacteria as Weapons of Intragenomic Conflict. PLoS Biol, 14 (3), pp. e1002394. | Show Abstract | Read more

Horizontal DNA transfer (HDT) is a pervasive mechanism of diversification in many microbial species, but its primary evolutionary role remains controversial. Much recent research has emphasised the adaptive benefit of acquiring novel DNA, but here we argue instead that intragenomic conflict provides a coherent framework for understanding the evolutionary origins of HDT. To test this hypothesis, we developed a mathematical model of a clonally descended bacterial population undergoing HDT through transmission of mobile genetic elements (MGEs) and genetic transformation. Including the known bias of transformation toward the acquisition of shorter alleles into the model suggested it could be an effective means of counteracting the spread of MGEs. Both constitutive and transient competence for transformation were found to provide an effective defence against parasitic MGEs; transient competence could also be effective at permitting the selective spread of MGEs conferring a benefit on their host bacterium. The coordination of transient competence with cell-cell killing, observed in multiple species, was found to result in synergistic blocking of MGE transmission through releasing genomic DNA for homologous recombination while simultaneously reducing horizontal MGE spread by lowering the local cell density. To evaluate the feasibility of the functions suggested by the modelling analysis, we analysed genomic data from longitudinal sampling of individuals carrying Streptococcus pneumoniae. This revealed the frequent within-host coexistence of clonally descended cells that differed in their MGE infection status, a necessary condition for the proposed mechanism to operate. Additionally, we found multiple examples of MGEs inhibiting transformation through integrative disruption of genes encoding the competence machinery across many species, providing evidence of an ongoing "arms race." Reduced rates of transformation have also been observed in cells infected by MGEs that reduce the concentration of extracellular DNA through secretion of DNases. Simulations predicted that either mechanism of limiting transformation would benefit individual MGEs, but also that this tactic's effectiveness was limited by competition with other MGEs coinfecting the same cell. A further observed behaviour we hypothesised to reduce elimination by transformation was MGE activation when cells become competent. Our model predicted that this response was effective at counteracting transformation independently of competing MGEs. Therefore, this framework is able to explain both common properties of MGEs, and the seemingly paradoxical bacterial behaviours of transformation and cell-cell killing within clonally related populations, as the consequences of intragenomic conflict between self-replicating chromosomes and parasitic MGEs. The antagonistic nature of the different mechanisms of HDT over short timescales means their contribution to bacterial evolution is likely to be substantially greater than previously appreciated.

Lubell Y, Blacksell SD, Dunachie S, Tanganuchitcharnchai A, Althaus T, Watthanaworawit W, Paris DH, Mayxay M, Peto TJ, Dondorp AM et al. 2015. Performance of C-reactive protein and procalcitonin to distinguish viral from bacterial and malarial causes of fever in Southeast Asia. BMC Infect Dis, 15 (1), pp. 511. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: Poor targeting of antimicrobial drugs contributes to the millions of deaths each year from malaria, pneumonia, and other tropical infectious diseases. While malaria rapid diagnostic tests have improved use of antimalarial drugs, there are no similar tests to guide the use of antibiotics in undifferentiated fevers. In this study we estimate the diagnostic accuracy of two well established biomarkers of bacterial infection, procalcitonin and C-reactive protein (CRP) in discriminating between common viral and bacterial infections in malaria endemic settings of Southeast Asia. METHODS: Serum procalcitonin and CRP levels were measured in stored serum samples from febrile patients enrolled in three prospective studies conducted in Cambodia, Laos and, Thailand. Of the 1372 patients with a microbiologically confirmed diagnosis, 1105 had a single viral, bacterial or malarial infection. Procalcitonin and CRP levels were compared amongst these aetiological groups and their sensitivity and specificity in distinguishing bacterial infections and bacteraemias from viral infections were estimated using standard thresholds. RESULTS: Serum concentrations of both biomarkers were significantly higher in bacterial infections and malaria than in viral infections. The AUROC for CRP in discriminating between bacterial and viral infections was 0.83 (0.81-0.86) compared with 0.74 (0.71-0.77) for procalcitonin (p < 0.0001). This relative advantage was evident in all sites and when stratifying patients by age and admission status. For CRP at a threshold of 10 mg/L, the sensitivity of detecting bacterial infections was 95% with a specificity of 49%. At a threshold of 20 mg/L sensitivity was 86% with a specificity of 67%. For procalcitonin at a low threshold of 0.1 ng/mL the sensitivity was 90% with a specificity of 39%. At a higher threshold of 0.5 ng/ul sensitivity was 60% with a specificity of 76%. CONCLUSION: In samples from febrile patients with mono-infections from rural settings in Southeast Asia, CRP was a highly sensitive and moderately specific biomarker for discriminating between viral and bacterial infections. Use of a CRP rapid test in peripheral health settings could potentially be a simple and affordable measure to better identify patients in need of antibacterial treatment and part of a global strategy to combat the emergence of antibiotic resistance.

Turner P, Turner C, Suy K, Soeng S, Ly S, Miliya T, Goldblatt D, Day NPJ. 2015. Pneumococcal Infection among Children before Introduction of 13-Valent Pneumococcal Conjugate Vaccine, Cambodia. Emerg Infect Dis, 21 (11), pp. 2080-2083. | Show Abstract | Read more

Vaccination of children with pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV13) was initiated in Cambodia in 2015. To determine baseline data, we collected samples from children in 2013 and 2014. PCV13 serotypes accounted for 62.7% of colonizing organisms in outpatients and 88.4% of invasive pneumococci overall; multidrug resistance was common. Thus, effectiveness of vaccination should be high.

Numminen E, Chewapreecha C, Turner C, Goldblatt D, Nosten F, Bentley SD, Turner P, Corander J. 2015. Climate induces seasonality in pneumococcal transmission. Sci Rep, 5 (1), pp. 11344. | Show Abstract | Read more

Streptococcus pneumoniae is a significant human pathogen and a leading cause of infant mortality in developing countries. Considerable global variation in the pneumococcal carriage prevalence has been observed and the ecological factors contributing to it are not yet fully understood. We use data from a cohort of infants in Asia to study the effects of climatic conditions on both acquisition and clearance rates of the bacterium, finding significantly higher transmissibility during the cooler and drier months. Conversely, the length of a colonization period is unaffected by the season. Independent carriage data from studies conducted on the African and North American continents suggest similar effects of the climate on the prevalence of this bacterium, which further validates the obtained results. Further studies could be important to replicate the findings and explain the mechanistic role of cooler and dry air in the physiological response to nasopharyngeal acquisition of the pneumococcus.

Salter SJ, Cox MJ, Turek EM, Calus ST, Cookson WO, Moffatt MF, Turner P, Parkhill J, Loman NJ, Walker AW. 2014. Reagent and laboratory contamination can critically impact sequence-based microbiome analyses. BMC Biol, 12 (1), pp. 87. | Show Abstract | Read more

BACKGROUND: The study of microbial communities has been revolutionised in recent years by the widespread adoption of culture independent analytical techniques such as 16S rRNA gene sequencing and metagenomics. One potential confounder of these sequence-based approaches is the presence of contamination in DNA extraction kits and other laboratory reagents. RESULTS: In this study we demonstrate that contaminating DNA is ubiquitous in commonly used DNA extraction kits and other laboratory reagents, varies greatly in composition between different kits and kit batches, and that this contamination critically impacts results obtained from samples containing a low microbial biomass. Contamination impacts both PCR-based 16S rRNA gene surveys and shotgun metagenomics. We provide an extensive list of potential contaminating genera, and guidelines on how to mitigate the effects of contamination. CONCLUSIONS: These results suggest that caution should be advised when applying sequence-based techniques to the study of microbiota present in low biomass environments. Concurrent sequencing of negative control samples is strongly advised.

Chewapreecha C, Marttinen P, Croucher NJ, Salter SJ, Harris SR, Mather AE, Hanage WP, Goldblatt D, Nosten FH, Turner C et al. 2014. Comprehensive identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms associated with beta-lactam resistance within pneumococcal mosaic genes. PLoS Genet, 10 (8), pp. e1004547. | Show Abstract | Read more

Traditional genetic association studies are very difficult in bacteria, as the generally limited recombination leads to large linked haplotype blocks, confounding the identification of causative variants. Beta-lactam antibiotic resistance in Streptococcus pneumoniae arises readily as the bacteria can quickly incorporate DNA fragments encompassing variants that make the transformed strains resistant. However, the causative mutations themselves are embedded within larger recombined blocks, and previous studies have only analysed a limited number of isolates, leading to the description of "mosaic genes" as being responsible for resistance. By comparing a large number of genomes of beta-lactam susceptible and non-susceptible strains, the high frequency of recombination should break up these haplotype blocks and allow the use of genetic association approaches to identify individual causative variants. Here, we performed a genome-wide association study to identify single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) and indels that could confer beta-lactam non-susceptibility using 3,085 Thai and 616 USA pneumococcal isolates as independent datasets for the variant discovery. The large sample sizes allowed us to narrow the source of beta-lactam non-susceptibility from long recombinant fragments down to much smaller loci comprised of discrete or linked SNPs. While some loci appear to be universal resistance determinants, contributing equally to non-susceptibility for at least two classes of beta-lactam antibiotics, some play a larger role in resistance to particular antibiotics. All of the identified loci have a highly non-uniform distribution in the populations. They are enriched not only in vaccine-targeted, but also non-vaccine-targeted lineages, which may raise clinical concerns. Identification of single nucleotide polymorphisms underlying resistance will be essential for future use of genome sequencing to predict antibiotic sensitivity in clinical microbiology.

Chewapreecha C, Harris SR, Croucher NJ, Turner C, Marttinen P, Cheng L, Pessia A, Aanensen DM, Mather AE, Page AJ et al. 2014. Dense genomic sampling identifies highways of pneumococcal recombination. Nat Genet, 46 (3), pp. 305-309. | Show Abstract | Read more

Evasion of clinical interventions by Streptococcus pneumoniae occurs through selection of non-susceptible genomic variants. We report whole-genome sequencing of 3,085 pneumococcal carriage isolates from a 2.4-km(2) refugee camp. This sequencing provides unprecedented resolution of the process of recombination and its impact on population evolution. Genomic recombination hotspots show remarkable consistency between lineages, indicating common selective pressures acting at certain loci, particularly those associated with antibiotic resistance. Temporal changes in antibiotic consumption are reflected in changes in recombination trends, demonstrating rapid spread of resistance when selective pressure is high. The highest frequencies of receipt and donation of recombined DNA fragments were observed in non-encapsulated lineages, implying that this largely overlooked pneumococcal group, which is beyond the reach of current vaccines, may have a major role in genetic exchange and the adaptation of the species as a whole. These findings advance understanding of pneumococcal population dynamics and provide information for the design of future intervention strategies.

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