Background: Nontyphoidal salmonellae (NTS) have become the most common cause of bacteremia in tropical Africa, particularly among susceptible children and HIV-infected adults.
Methods: We describe 4956 episodes of NTS bacteremia (2439 episodes in adults and 2517 episodes in children) that occurred in Blantyre, Malawi, during the 7-year period 1998-2004.
Results: A total of 75% of the cases of NTS bacteremia were due to Salmonella enterica serovar Typhimurium, and 21% were due to S. enterica serovar Enteritidis. Epidemic increases in the incidence of NTS bacteremia were seen sequentially, occurring first among cases caused by S. Enteritidis and then among cases caused by S. Typhimurium. Increased incidence of bacteremia was temporally associated with the acquisition of multidrug resistance to ampicillin, cotrimoxazole, and chloramphenicol by each serovar and occurred while the incidence of infection due to other common bloodstream pathogens remained constant. These epidemics were observed among adults and children. A seasonal pattern was also seen, with increased incidence during and after the rainy season. The median age of the patients was 32 years among adults and 22 months among children. Acquisition of multidrug-resistant infection was not associated with an increased case-fatality rate among children (22%), and the case-fatality rate among adults showed a significant trend toward decreasing (from 29% to 20%).
Conclusions: These data have important implications for the treatment of severe febrile illness in adults and children in tropical Africa. Further understanding of the molecular basis of these epidemics of multidrug-resistant NTS infection, including ongoing whole-genome sequencing of multidrug-resistant isolates, will yield important tools for the study of NTS pathogenesis, transmission, epidemiology, and prevention.