Mycobacterium tuberculosis Genotypes and Drug Susceptibility Test Results from Timor-Leste: A Pilot Study

Nevio Sarmento, Ella M. Meumann, Helder M. Pereira, Constantino Lopes, Maria Globan, Charlotte Hall, Matthew Di Palma, Nicole Hersch, Kristy Horan, Anna P. Ralph, Joshua R. Francis

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Tuberculosis (TB) is prevalent and a major public health problem in Timor-Leste. The government of Timor-Leste is prioritising the surveillance of TB and drug-susceptibility testing (DST) to understand the burden of TB and TB drug resistance in the country. Moreover, little is known about the origin of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) in Timor-Leste. This study reports MTB DST and sequencing for Timor-Leste. A pilot study was carried out in which a convenience sample of TB isolates from mucopurulent sputum collected from presumptive TB patients in the capital Dili between July and December 2016 was tested for phenotypic and genotypic evidence of drug resistance. Standard MTB culture was performed at the Timor-Leste National Health Laboratory (NHL). The MTB isolates were sent to the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory (VIDRL) in Australia for DST and sequencing. Overall, 36 MTB isolates were detected at the NHL; 20 isolates were recovered during sub-culturing at VIDRL. All 20 isolates were susceptible to rifampicin, isoniazid, pyrazinamide, and ethambutol, with no genotypic markers of resistance identified. On sequencing, lineage 4 was the most common. The results of this study provide a small snapshot of MTB diversity and resistance in an under-sampled region with very high TB incidence. Future investment in whole-genome sequencing capacity in Timor-Leste will make it possible to undertake further, more representative analyses that may be used to evaluate transmission dynamics and epidemiology of genotypic markers of resistance.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1733
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2022


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