Persistence of Rare Salmonella Typhi Genotypes Susceptible to First-Line Antibiotics in the Remote Islands of Samoa

Michael J. Sikorski, Tracy H. Hazen, Sachin N. Desai, Susana Nimarota-Brown, Siaosi Tupua, Michelle Sialeipata, Savitra Rambocus, Danielle J. Ingle, Sebastian Duchene, Susan A. Ballard, Mary Valcanis, Sara Zufan, Jianguo Ma, Jason W. Sahl, Mailis Maes, Gordon Dougan, Robert E. Thomsen, Roy M. Robins-Browne, Benjamin P. Howden, Take K. NaseriMyron M. Levine, David A. Rasko

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


For decades, the remote island nation of Samoa (population;200,000) has faced endemic typhoid fever despite improvements in water quality, sanitation, and economic development. We recently described the epidemiology of typhoid fever in Samoa from 2008 to 2019 by person, place, and time; however, the local Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi (S. Typhi) population structure, evolutionary origins, and genomic features remained unknown. Herein, we report whole genome sequence analyses of 306 S. Typhi isolates from Samoa collected between 1983 and 2020. Phylogenetics revealed a dominant population of rare genotypes 3.5.4 and 3.5.3, together comprising 292/306 (95.4%) of Samoan versus 2/4934 (0.04%) global S. Typhi isolates. Three distinct 3.5.4 genomic sublineages were identified, and their defining polymorphisms were determined. These dominant Samoan genotypes, which likely emerged in the 1970s, share ancestry with other 3.5 clade isolates from South America, Southeast Asia, and Oceania. Additionally, a 106-kb pHCM2 phenotypically cryptic plasmid, detected in a 1992 Samoan S. Typhi isolate, was identified in 106/306 (34.6%) of Samoan isolates; this is more than double the observed proportion of pHCM2-containing isolates in the global collection. In stark contrast with global S. Typhi trends, resistance-conferring polymorphisms were detected in only 15/306 (4.9%) of Samoan S. Typhi, indicating overwhelming susceptibility to antibiotics that are no longer effective in most of South and Southeast Asia. This country-level genomic framework can help local health authorities in their ongoing typhoid surveillance and control efforts, as well as fill a critical knowledge gap in S. Typhi genomic data from Oceania.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • Oceania
  • Salmonella Typhi
  • Salmonella enterica serovar Typhi
  • Samoa
  • antimicrobial resistance
  • comparative genomics
  • epidemiology
  • genomics
  • population genomics
  • typhoid fever

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Virology


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