A molecular and epidemiological study of Vibrio cholerae isolates from cholera outbreaks in southern Ghana
Cholera remains a major global public health threat and continuous emergence of new Vibrio cholerae strains is of major concern. We conducted a molecular epidemiological study to detect virulence markers and antimicrobial resistance patterns of V. cholerae isolates obtained from the 2012-2015 cholera outbreaks in Ghana. Archived clinical isolates obtained from the 2012, 2014 and 2015 cholera outbreaks in Ghana were revived by culture and subjected to microscopy, biochemical identification,
... dentification, serotyping, antibiotic susceptibility testing, molecular detection of distinct virulence factors and Multi-Locus Variable-Number of Tandem-Repeat Analysis (MLVA). Of 277 isolates analysed, 168 (60.6%) were confirmed to be V. cholerae and 109 (39.4%) isolates constituted other bacteria (Escherichia coli, Aeromonas sobria, Pseudomonas aeruginosa, Enterobacter cloacae and Enterococci faecalis). Serotyping the V. cholerae isolates identified 151 (89.9%) as Ogawa, 3 (1.8%) as Inaba and 14 (8.3%) as non-O1/O139 serogroup. The O1 serogroup isolates (154/168, 91.7%) carried the cholera toxin ctxB gene as detected by PCR. Additional virulence genes detected include zot, tcpA, ace, rtxC, toxR, rtxA, tcpP, hlyA and tagA. The most common and rare virulence factors detected among the isolates were rtxC (165 isolates) and tcpP (50 isolates) respectively. All isolates from 2014 and 2015 were multidrug resistant against the selected antibiotics. MLVA differentiated the isolates into 2 large unique clones A and B, with each predominating in a particular year. Spatial analysis showed clustering of most isolates at Ablekuma sub-district. Identification of several virulence genes among the two different genotypes of V. cholerae isolates and resistance to first- and second-line antibiotics, calls for scaleup of preventive strategies to reduce transmission, and strengthening of public health laboratories for rapid antimicrobial susceptibility testing to guide accurate treatment. Our findings support the current WHO licensed cholera vaccines which include both O1 Inaba and Ogawa serotypes.