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J Clin Microbiol. 2009 Sep;47(9):2944-9. doi: 10.1128/JCM.01001-09. Epub 2009 Jul 22.

Strain typing and antimicrobial resistance of fluoroquinolone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae causing a California infection outbreak.

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  • 1California Department of Health Services, Sexually Transmitted Diseases Control Branch, Richmond, California, USA.


Antimicrobial-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae is an emerging public health problem as a result of the alarming limitation in treatment options. We examined an outbreak in California of fluoroquinolone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae (QRNG) by evaluation of a combination of routine isolates from the Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project and isolates collected by expanded surveillance performed between April 2000 and June 2002. QRNG isolates were characterized by two methods: (i) determination of a combination of antibiogram, auxotype, serovar, Lip type, and patterns of amino acid alteration in the quinolone resistance-determining region of GyrA and ParC (ASLGP) and (ii) pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE). Strain typing was used to describe the QRNG outbreak strains and the associated antimicrobial resistance profiles. Among 79 isolates that were completely characterized, we identified 20 different ASLGP strain types, and 2 of the types were considered to belong to outbreak strains that comprised 65% (51/79) of the isolates. By PFGE typing, there were 24 different strain types, and 4 of these were considered outbreak types and comprised 66% (52/79) of the isolates. The overall agreement between the typing methods in distinguishing outbreak strains and non-outbreak strains was 84% (66/79). The most common QRNG ASLGP strain type had chromosomally mediated resistance to penicillin and tetracycline and an azithromycin MIC of 0.5 microg/ml. The occurrence of an outbreak caused by QRNG strains that could fail to be eradicated by most antibiotic classes reinforces the serious problem with antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae that the public health system faces. Adherence to a regimen with the recommended antibiotics at the appropriate dose is critical, and monitoring for antimicrobial susceptibility needs to be actively maintained to adapt treatment guidelines appropriately.

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