Methods: Ninety-four E. coli isolates from patients admitted to Queen’s Hospital, Malawi, were whole-genome sequenced. The isolates were selected on the basis of diversity of phenotypic resistance profiles and clinical source of isolation (blood, CSF and rectal swab). Sequence data were analysed using comparative genomics and phylogenetics.
Results: Our results revealed the presence of five clades, which were strongly associated with E. coli phylogroups A, B1, B2, D and F. We identified 43 multilocus STs, of which ST131 (14.9%) and ST12 (9.6%) were the most common. We identified 25 AMR genes. The most common ESBL gene was blaCTX-M-15 and it was present in all five phylogroups and 11 STs, and most commonly detected in ST391 (4/4 isolates), ST648 (3/3 isolates) and ST131 [3/14 (21.4%) isolates].
Conclusions: This study has revealed a high diversity of lineages associated with AMR, including ESBL and fluoroquinolone resistance, in Malawi. The data highlight the value of longitudinal bacteraemia surveillance coupled with detailed molecular epidemiology in all settings, including low-income settings, in describing the global epidemiology of ESBL resistance.