Three transmission events of Vibrio cholerae O1 into Lusaka, Zambia

John Mwaba, Amanda K. Debes, Kelsey N. Murt, Patrick Shea, Michelo Simuyandi, Natasha Laban, Katayi Kazimbaya, Caroline Chisenga, Shan Li, Mathieu Almeida, Jacquelyn S. Meisel, Aaron Shibemba, Timothy Kantenga, Victor Mukonka, Geoffrey Kwenda, David A. Sack, Roma Chilengi, O. Colin Stine

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Cholera has been present and recurring in Zambia since 1977. However, there is a paucity of data on genetic relatedness and diversity of the Vibrio cholerae isolates responsible for these outbreaks. Understanding whether the outbreaks are seeded from existing local isolates or if the outbreaks represent separate transmission events can inform public health decisions. Results: Seventy-two V. cholerae isolates from outbreaks in 2009/2010, 2016, and 2017/2018 in Zambia were characterized using multilocus variable number tandem repeat analysis (MLVA) and whole genome sequencing (WGS). The isolates had eight distinct MLVA genotypes that clustered into three MLVA clonal complexes (CCs). Each CC contained isolates from only one outbreak. The results from WGS revealed both clustered and dispersed single nucleotide variants. The genetic relatedness of isolates based on WGS was consistent with the MLVA, each CC was a distinct genetic lineage and had nearest neighbors from other East African countries. In Lusaka, isolates from the same outbreak were more closely related to themselves and isolates from other countries than to isolates from other outbreaks in other years. Conclusions: Our observations are consistent with i) the presence of random mutation and alternative mechanisms of nucleotide variation, and ii) three separate transmission events of V. cholerae into Lusaka, Zambia. We suggest that locally, case-area targeted invention strategies and regionally, well-coordinated plans be in place to effectively control future cholera outbreaks.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number570
JournalBMC infectious diseases
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


  • MLVA
  • Molecular characterization
  • V. cholerae
  • Whole genome sequencing
  • Zambia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Infectious Diseases


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