Syphilis transmission networks and antimicrobial resistance in England uncovered using genomics
Scientists have used genomics to reveal distinct sexual networks for syphilis transmission, defined geographically or by sexual preference, among a background of wider circulation in England. They also show a presence of drug resistance in the majority of cases.
By grouping closely related strains of the bacterium that causes syphilis – Treponema pallidum –, researchers demonstrate how a large number of cases are linked together. Researchers from the Wellcome Sanger Institute and their collaborators at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA)* sequenced 237 whole genome samples and integrated this with epidemiological data to map the bacterium’s evolution and spread through a population. They show distinct transmission chains between individuals as well as significant resistance to a commonly prescribed class of antibiotics in England.
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