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Euro Surveill. 2013 Jan 17;18(3). pii: 20358.

Molecular epidemiological typing within the European Gonococcal Antimicrobial Resistance Surveillance Programme reveals predominance of a multidrug-resistant clone.

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  • 1Sexually Transmitted Bacteria Reference Laboratory, Health Protection Agency, Colindale, London, United Kingdom.


Treatment of gonorrhoea is threatened by antimicrobial resistance, and decreased susceptibility and resistance to recommended therapies is emerging in Europe. Current associations between resistance and molecular type remain poorly understood. Gonococcal isolates (n=1,066) collected for the 2009 and 2010 European Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme were typed by Neisseria gonorrhoeae multi-antigen sequence typing (NG-MAST). A total of 406 sequence types (STs) were identified, 125 of which occurred in ≥two isolates. Seven major genogroups of closely related STs (varying by ≤1% at just one of the two target loci) were defined. Genogroup 1407 (G1407), observed in 20/21 countries and predominant in 13/21 countries, accounted for 23% of all isolates and was associated with decreased susceptibility to cefixime and resistance to ciprofloxacin and raised minimum inhibitory concentrations for ceftriaxone and azithromycin. Genogroup 225 (G225), associated with ciprofloxacin resistance, was observed in 10% of isolates from 19/21 countries. None of the other genogroups were associated with antimicrobial resistance. The predominance of a multidrug-resistant clone (G1407) in Europe is worrying given the recent reports of recommended third generation cephalosporins failing to treat infections with this clone. Identifying associations between ST and antimicrobial resistance aids the understanding of the dissemination of resistant clones within a population and could facilitate development of targeted intervention strategies.

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