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Commun Dis Intell Q Rep. 2011 Mar;35(1):2-7.

Surveillance of antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the WHO Western Pacific and South East Asian Regions, 2009.


Long-term surveillance of antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae has been conducted in the World Health Organization (WHO) Western Pacific Region (WPR) to optimise antibiotic treatment of gonococcal disease since 1992. From 2007, the Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme (GASP) has been enhanced by the inclusion of data from the South East Asian Region (SEAR) and recruitment of additional centres in the WPR. Approximately 8,704 isolates of N. gonorrhoeae were examined for their susceptibility to one or more antibiotics used for the treatment of gonorrhoea, incorporating External Quality Assurance controlled methods, from reporting centres in 21 countries and/or jurisdictions. A high proportion of penicillin and/or quinolone resistance was again detected amongst isolates tested in North Asia and the WHO SEAR. In contrast, from the Pacific Island states Fiji reported low penicillin and quinolone resistance, New Caledonia again reported no penicillin resistance and little quinolone resistance, Tonga reported no penicillin resistance and there was a continued absence of quinolone resistance reported in Papua New Guinea in 2009. The proportion of gonococci reported as 'decreased susceptibility' and 'resistant' to the third-generation cephalosporin antibiotic ceftriaxone varied widely but no major changes were evident in cephalosporin minimum inhibitory concentrations (MIC) patterns in 2009. Altered cephalosporin susceptibility has been associated with treatment failures following therapy with oral third-generation cephalosporins. There is a need for revision and clarification of some of the in vitro criteria that are currently used to categorise the clinical importance of gonococci with different ceftriaxone and oral cephalosporin MIC levels. The number of instances of spectinomycin resistance remained low. A high proportion of strains tested continued to exhibit high-level plasmid mediated resistance to tetracyclines. The continuing emergence and spread of antibiotic resistant gonococci in and from the WHO WPR and SEAR suggests that surveillance programs such as GASP be maintained and expanded.

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