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Increasing prevalence of penicillinase‐producing Neisseria gonorrhoeae and the emergence of high‐level, plasmid‐mediated tetracycline resistance among gonococcal isolates in The Gambia

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One hundred and three strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolated from a periurban STD clinic in The Gambia were studied for antimicrobial susceptibility, plasmid profile, and serogroup using standard procedures. Seventy‐nine (77%) were penicillinase producers (PPNG) and fully resistant to penicillin (MIC 8 mg/l). One isolate showed chromosomally induced resistance to penicillin (MIC 2 mg/l). None of the isolates was sensitive to tetracycline; 16 (16%) showed intermediate resistance (MICs 1–8 mg/l) and 87 (84%) showed high‐level plasmid‐mediated resistance (TRNG) (MICs >10 mg/l). This is the first report of TRNG in The Gambia. Only 6 (6%) strains were fully sensitive to trimethoprim‐sulphamethoxazole (MIC <8 mg/l); 78 (76%) showed intermediate level resistance (MICs 8–16 mg/l) and 19 (18%) were fully resistant (MIC >32 mg/l). Indications of an increase in MIC to ciprofloxacin and ceftriaxone were found in 6 (6%) and 1 (1%) strains, respectively, although all remained fully sensitive (MICs 0.004–0.03 mg/l and 0.001–0.015 mg/l). All PPNG and TRNG strains carried the 3.2 MDa and 25.2 MDa plasmids, respectively. All isolates carried the 2.6 MDa cryptic plasmid and 9 (3 PPNG and 6 non‐PPNG) carried the 24.5 MDa conjugative plasmid. Forty‐four (43%) strains were typed group W1, 58 (56%) W11/111 and 1 had cross‐reacting antigens. Because PPNG are frequently encountered and high‐level TRNG is now prevalent, the newer cephalosporins and quinolones must now be considered as first‐line drugs for the treatment of gonorrhoea in The Gambia.

Keywords: Neisseria gonorrhoeae; resistance; tetracycline

Document Type: Original Article


Affiliations: 1: Medical Research Council Laboratories, Fajara, The Gambia, 2: London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, London, UK

Publication date: May 1, 1997


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