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Antimicrob Agents Chemother. 1998 Nov;42(11):2919-22.

Drift in susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to ciprofloxacin and emergence of therapeutic failure.

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Department of Infectious Diseases and Microbiology, Imperial College School of Medicine, St. Mary's Campus, London, United Kingdom.


Ciprofloxacin, 500 mg, was introduced as the first-line therapy for gonorrhea at St. Mary's Hospital, London, in 1989, when a surveillance program was initiated to detect the emergence of resistance. Isolates of Neisseria gonorrhoeae from consecutive patients attending the Jefferiss Wing, Genitourinary Medicine Clinic at St. Mary's Hospital, between 1989 and 1997 have been tested for susceptibility to ciprofloxacin by using an agar dilution breakpoint technique. Isolates considered potentially resistant (MIC, >0.12 microg/ml) were further characterized by determination of the MICs of ciprofloxacin, nalidixic acid, and penicillin, auxotyped and serotyped, and screened for mutations in the DNA gyrase gene, gyrA, and the topoisomerase IV gene, parC. A total of 4,875 isolates were tested. While the majority of isolates were highly susceptible (MIC, </=0.008 microg of ciprofloxacin/ml), there was a drift toward reduced susceptibility in N. gonorrhoeae isolated between 1993 and 1996 (P < 0.001). In 1997 this drift was reduced but remained above pre-1993 levels. Isolates from 18 patients were classed as potentially resistant (MIC, >0.12 microg/ml); all of these belonged to serogroup B, and NR/IB-1 was the most common auxotype/serovar class. The infections in 14 of the 18 patients were known to be acquired abroad, and 5 were known to result in therapeutic failure. The surveillance program has established that ciprofloxacin is still a highly effective antibiotic against N. gonorrhoeae in this population. However, it has identified a drift in susceptibility which may have resulted from increased usage of ciprofloxacin. High-level resistance has now emerged, although treatment failure is still uncommon.

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