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BACKGROUND: Enteric fever remains an important cause of morbidity in many low-income countries and Salmonella Paratyphi A has emerged as the aetiological agent in an increasing proportion of cases. Lack of adequate diagnostics hinders early diagnosis and prompt treatment of both typhoid and paratyphoid but development of assays to identify paratyphoid has been particularly neglected. Here we describe the development of a rapid and sensitive blood culture PCR method for detection of Salmonella Paratyphi A from blood, potentially allowing for appropriate diagnosis and antimicrobial treatment to be initiated on the same day. METHODS: Venous blood samples from volunteers experimentally challenged orally with Salmonella Paratyphi A, who subsequently developed paratyphoid, were taken on the day of diagnosis; 10 ml for quantitative blood culture and automated blood culture, and 5 ml for blood culture PCR. In the latter assay, bacteria were grown in tryptone soy broth containing 2.4% ox bile and micrococcal nuclease for 5 hours (37°C) before bacterial DNA was isolated for PCR detection targeting the fliC-a gene of Salmonella Paratyphi A. RESULTS: An optimized broth containing 2.4% ox bile and micrococcal nuclease, as well as a PCR test was developed for a blood culture PCR assay of Salmonella Paratyphi A. The volunteers diagnosed with paratyphoid had a median bacterial burden of 1 (range 0.1-6.9) CFU/ml blood. All the blood culture PCR positive cases where a positive bacterial growth was shown by quantitative blood culture had a bacterial burden of ≥ 0.3 CFU/ ml blood. The blood culture PCR assay identified an equal number of positive cases as automated blood culture at higher bacterial loads (≥0.3 CFU/ml blood), but utilized only half the volume of specimens. CONCLUSIONS: The blood culture PCR method for detection of Salmonella Paratyphi A can be completed within 9 hours and offers the potential for same-day diagnosis of enteric fever. Using 5 ml blood, it exhibited a lower limit of detection equal to 0.3 CFU/ml blood, and it performed at least as well as automated blood culture at higher bacterial loads (≥0.3 CFU/ml blood) of clinical specimens despite using half the volume of blood. The findings warrant its further study in endemic populations with a potential use as a novel diagnostic which fills the present gap of paratyphoid diagnostics.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Autoanalysis, DNA, Bacterial, Humans, Paratyphoid Fever, Polymerase Chain Reaction, Salmonella paratyphi A, Sensitivity and Specificity