Increasingly limited options for the treatment of enteric fever in travellers returning to England, 2014-2019: A cross-sectional analytical study

M. Trent Herdman*, Basel Karo, Jayshree Dave, Parisha Katwa, Joanne Freedman, Vivienne Do Nascimento, Hilary Kirkbride, Marie Anne Chattaway, Gauri Godbole, Sooria Balasegaram

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Introduction. Enteric fever (caused by Salmonella enterica serovars Typhi and Paratyphi) frequently presents as an acute, undifferentiated febrile illness in returning travellers, requiring timely empirical antibiotics. Gap Statement. Determining which empirical antibiotics to prescribe for enteric fever requires up-to-date knowledge of susceptibility patterns. Aim. By characterising factors associated with antimicrobial resistance in cases of S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi imported to England, we aim to guide effective empirical treatment. Methodology. All English isolates of S. Typhi and S. Paratyphi 2014-2019 underwent antimicrobial susceptibility testing; results were compared to a previous survey in London 2005-2012. Risk factors for antimicrobial resistance were analysed with logistic regression models to predict adjusted odds ratios (aOR) for resistance to individual antibiotics and multi-drug resistance. Results. We identified 1088 cases of S. Typhi, 729 S. Paratyphi A, 93 S. Paratyphi B, and one S. Paratyphi C. In total, 93% were imported. Overall, 90% of S. Typhi and 97% of S. Paratyphi A isolates were resistant to ciprofloxacin; 26% of S. Typhi were multidrug resistant to ciprofloxacin, amoxicillin, co-trimoxazole, and chloramphenicol (MDR+FQ). Of the isolates, 4% of S. Typhi showed an extended drug resistance (XDR) phenotype of MDR+FQ plus resistance to third-generation cephalosporins, with cases of XDR rising sharply in recent years (none before 2017, one in 2017, six in 2018, 32 in 2019). For S. Typhi isolates, resistance to ciprofloxacin was associated with travel to Pakistan (aOR=32.0, 95% CI: 15.4-66.4), India (aOR=21.8, 95% CI: 11.6-41.2), and Bangladesh (aOR=6.2, 95% CI: 2.8-13.6) compared to travel elsewhere, after adjusting for rising prevalence of resistance over time. MDR+FQ resistance in S. Typhi isolates was associated with travel to Pakistan (aOR=3.5, 95% CI: 2.4-5.2) and less likely with travel to India (aOR=0.07, 95% CI 0.04-0.15) compared to travel elsewhere. All XDR cases were imported from Pakistan. No isolate was resistant to azithromycin. Comparison with the 2005-2012 London survey indicates substantial increases in the prevalence of resistance of S. Typhi isolates to ciprofloxacin associated with travel to Pakistan (from 79-98%) and Africa (from 12-60%). Conclusion. Third-generation cephalosporins and azithromycin remain appropriate choices for empirical treatment of enteric fever in most returning travellers to the UK from endemic countries, except from Pakistan, where XDR represents a significant risk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number001359
JournalJournal of Medical Microbiology
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge Martin Day and Amy Gentle from GBRU for performing antimicrobial susceptibility testing, health protection teams and environmental health officers in completing the enhanced surveillance questionnaires for enteric fever, the Travel Health Team for collating and coordinating enhanced surveillance data, colleagues in the National Health Services diagnostic laboratories for referral of isolates to reference laboratory, and cases for participating in enhanced surveillance.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 Microbiology Society. All rights reserved.


  • Antimicrobial resistance
  • Enteric fever
  • Paratyphoid
  • Travel medicine
  • Typhoid


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