Serotype Distribution, Population Structure, and Antimicrobial Resistance of Group B Streptococcus Strains Recovered from Colonized Pregnant Women
Using serotyping, multilocus sequence typing, and whole-genome sequencing (WGS) of selected strains, we studied the population structure of 102 group B Streptococcus (GBS) isolates prospectively sampled in 2014 from vaginal/rectal swabs of healthy pregnant women in metropolitan Toronto, Canada. We also determined the susceptibilities of each of the colonizing isolates to penicillin, erythromycin, clindamycin, tetracycline, and other antimicrobial agents. Overall, we observed a high rate of tetracycline resistance (89%) among colonizing GBS isolates. We found resistance to erythromycin in 36% of the strains, and 33% were constitutively or inducibly resistant to clindamycin. The most frequently identified serotypes were III (25%), Ia (23%), and V (19%). Serotype IV accounted for 6% of the colonizing isolates, a rate consistent with that observed among patients with invasive GBS infections in metropolitan Toronto. The majority of serotype IV isolates belonged to sequence type (ST)459, a tetracycline-, erythromycin-, and clindamycin-resistant ST first identified in Minnesota, which is considered to be the main driver of serotype IV GBS expansion in North America. WGS revealed that ST459 isolates from Canada are clonally related to colonizing and invasive ST459 organisms circulating in regions of the United States. We also used WGS to study recombination in selected colonizing strains from metropolitan Toronto, which revealed multiple episodes of capsular switching. Present and future circulating GBS organisms and their genetic diversity may influence GBS vaccine development.
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