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Molecular characterisation of group A streptococcus isolates recovered from the north-west of Pretoria, South Africa

X V Khosa, O Kgasha, H Mabuza, M Moshe, K Engel, M Nchabeleng

Abstract


Background. Group A streptococcus (GAS) is a human pathogen responsible for a wide range of invasive and non-invasive infections. Pharyngitis caused by GAS may have complications such as acute rheumatic fever subsequently leading to rheumatic heart disease (RHD). RHD continues to have high morbidity and mortality and affects millions of children and young adults, mostly in developing countries. An effective preventive vaccine against GAS may reduce the morbidity and mortality. A 30-valent M-protein-based vaccine is currently at the clinical trials stage of development. Potential vaccine coverage will depend on the geographical distribution of GAS emm (M protein) types.

Objectives. To determine the emm types of GAS isolates circulating in the north-west of Pretoria, South Africa.

Methods. Throat swabs were collected from patients aged 3 - 20 years presenting with pharyngitis at one local clinic. In addition, GAS clinical isolates were collected from the National Health Laboratory Service diagnostic laboratory. Emm genotyping was done on the GAS isolates by amplification of the emm gene followed by sequencing of the 5′ portion of the gene. The emm types were correlated with the types in the vaccine.

Results. A total of 54 GAS isolates were collected, comprising 19 pharyngitis and 35 clinical isolates. We found 15 different emm types among the 43 GAS isolates that were successfully sequenced. Eleven isolates (20%) could not be typed. The most prevalent emm type was 92 (26%), which is part of the 30-valent vaccine. This was followed by emm 25 and 75, each accounting for 12% of the isolates. Up to 67% of the emm types are not covered in the 30-valent vaccine.

Conclusions. Fifteen emm types were identified, of which 92 was the most prevalent. It is concerning that 67% of the emm types are not covered in the vaccine currently under development. It is recommended that surveillance studies be extended to include other parts of the country in order to expand knowledge of the circulating emm types.


Authors' affiliations

X V Khosa, Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

O Kgasha, Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

H Mabuza, Department of Family Medicine, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

M Moshe, Department of Paediatrics, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria, South Africa

K Engel, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

M Nchabeleng, Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Sefako Makgatho Health Sciences University, Pretoria; Dr George Mukhari Tertiary Laboratory, National Health Laboratory Service, Pretoria, South Africa

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Keywords

Group A streptococcus; Rheumatic heart disease; Pharyngitis; emm typing; 30-valent vaccine; Vaccine coverage

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2021;111(5):487-490. DOI:10.7196/SAMJ.2021.v111i5.14613

Article History

Date submitted: 2021-04-30
Date published: 2021-04-30

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