European Journal of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases

, Volume 31, Issue 6, pp 1181-1186

First online:

Phenotypic and genotypic properties of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates in Norway in 2009: antimicrobial resistance warrants an immediate change in national management guidelines

  • S. O. HjelmevollAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology and Infection Control, University Hospital of North Norway Email author 
  • , D. GolparianAffiliated withNational Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology, Örebro University Hospital
  • , L. DediAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Oslo University Hospital
  • , D. H. SkutlabergAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Haukeland University Hospital
  • , E. HaarrAffiliated withDepartment of Medical Microbiology, Stavanger University Hospital
  • , A. ChristensenAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, St. Olavs Hospital, Trondheim University Hospital
  • , S. JørgensenAffiliated withDepartment of Microbiology, Akershus University Hospital
  • , Ø. J. NilsenAffiliated withDepartment of Infectious Disease Epidemiology, Norwegian Institute of Public Health
  • , M. UnemoAffiliated withNational Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, Department of Laboratory Medicine, Microbiology, Örebro University Hospital
    • , V. SkogenAffiliated withDepartment of Medicine, University Hospital of North NorwayInstitute of Clinical Medicine, University of Tromsø

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Despite rapidly diminishing treatment options for Neisseria gonorrhoeae and high levels of ciprofloxacin resistance worldwide, Norwegian guidelines still recommend ciprofloxacin as empirical treatment for gonorrhea. The present study aimed to characterize phenotypical and genotypical properties of N. gonorrhoeae isolates in Norway in 2009. All viable N. gonorrhoeae isolates (n = 114) from six university hospitals in Norway (2009) were collected, representing 42% of all notified gonorrhea cases. Epidemiological data were collected from the Norwegian Surveillance System for Communicable Diseases and linked to phenotypical and genotypical characteristics for each N. gonorrhoeae isolate. Resistance levels to the antimicrobials examined were: ciprofloxacin 78%, azithromycin 11%, cefixime 3.5%, ceftriaxone 1.8%, and spectinomycin 0%. The minimum inhibitory concentrations of gentamicin varied from 1.5 to 8 mg/L. Forty-one (36%) of the isolates were β-lactamase-producing, 17 displayed penA mosaic alleles, and 72 different N. gonorrhoeae multiantigen sequence types (ST; 37 novel) were identified. The most common ST was ST1407 (n = 11), containing penA mosaic allele. Four of these isolates displayed intermediate susceptibility/resistance to cefixime. The N. gonorrhoeae strains circulating in Norway were highly diverse. The level of ciprofloxacin resistance was high and the Norwegian management guidelines should promptly exclude ciprofloxacin as an empirical treatment option for gonorrhea.