Salmonella enterica serovar Kentucky recovered from human clinical cases in Maryland, USA (2011-2015).
Salmonella Kentucky is among the most frequently isolated S. enterica serovars from food animals in the United States. Recent research on isolates recovered from these animals suggests there may be geographic and host specificity signatures associated with S. Kentucky strains. However, the sources and genomic features of human clinical S. Kentucky isolated in the United States remain poorly described. To investigate the characteristics of clinical S. Kentucky and the possible sources of these infections, the genomes of all S. Kentucky isolates recovered from human clinical cases in the State of Maryland between 2011 and 2015 (n=12) were sequenced and compared to a database of 525 previously sequenced S. Kentucky genomes representing 12 sequence types (ST) collected from multiple sources on several continents. Of the 12 human clinical S. Kentucky isolates from Maryland, nine were ST198, two were ST152, and one was ST314. Forty-one per cent of isolates were recovered from patients reporting recent international travel and 58% of isolates encoded genomic characteristics similar to those originating outside of the United States. Of the five isolates not associated with international travel, three encoded antibiotic resistance genes conferring resistance to tetracycline or aminoglycosides, while two others only encoded the cryptic aac(6′)-Iaa gene. Five isolates recovered from individuals with international travel histories (ST198) and two for which travel was not recorded (ST198) encoded genes conferring resistance to between 4 and 7 classes of antibiotics. Seven ST198 genomes encoded the Salmonella Genomic Island 1 and substitutions in the gyrA and parC genes known to confer resistance to ciprofloxacin. Case report data on food consumption and travel were, for the most part, consistent with the inferred S. Kentucky phylogeny. Results of this study indicate that the majority of S. Kentucky infections in Maryland are caused by ST198 which may originate outside of North America.