Mycobacterium tuberculosis epidemiology in Oman: whole-genome sequencing uncovers transmission pathways.
Tuberculosis (TB) originating from expatriates that hail from high TB-burden countries is hypothesized to play a role in continued TB transmission in Oman. Here, we used whole-genome sequencing (WGS) to assess national TB transmission dynamics. The annual incidence per 100,000 population per year was calculated for nationals and expatriates. A convenience sample of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) isolates from 2018 to 2019 was sequenced and analyzed with publicly available TB sequences from Bangladesh, Tanzania, the Philippines, India, and Pakistan. Relatedness was assessed by generating core-genome single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) distances. The incidence of TB was five cases per 100,000 persons in 2018 and seven cases per 100,000 persons in 2020 (R2 = 0.34, P = 0.60). Incidence among nationals was 3.9 per 100,000 persons in 2018 and 3.5 per 100,000 persons in 2020 (R2 = 0.20, P = 0.70), and incidence among expatriates was 7.2 per 100,000 persons in 2018 and 12.7 per 100,000 persons in 2020 (R2 = 0.74, P = 0.34). Sixty-eight local MTB isolates were sequenced and analyzed with 393 global isolates. Isolates belonged to nine distinct spoligotypes. Two isolates, originating from an expatriate and an Omani national, were grouped into a WGS-based cluster (SNP distance < 12), which was corroborated by an epidemiological investigation. Relatedness of local and global isolates (SNP distance < 100) was also seen. The relatedness between MTB strains in Oman and those in expatriate countries of origin can aid inform TB control policy. Our results provide evidence that WGS can complement epidemiological analysis to achieve the End TB strategy goal in Oman.
Babiker, H. A., Al-Jardani, A., Al-Azri, S., Petit, R. A., 3rd, Saad, E., Al-Mahrouqi, S., Mohamed, R. A. H., Al-Hamidhi, S., Balkhair, A. A., Al Kharusi, N., Al Balushi, L., Al Zadjali, S., Pérez-Pardal, L., Beja-Pereira, A., & Babiker, A. Mycobacterium tuberculosis epidemiology in Oman: whole-genome sequencing uncovers transmission pathways. Microbiology Spectrum, e0242023. (2023)