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

  • S. O. Hjelmevoll
  • D. Golparian
  • L. Dedi
  • D. H. Skutlaberg
  • E. Haarr
  • A. Christensen
  • S. Jørgensen
  • Ø. J. Nilsen
  • M. Unemo
  • V. Skogen


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.



This work was financially supported by the Örebro County Council Research Committee, the Foundation for Medical Research at Örebro University Hospital, Sweden, and the University of Tromsø, Tromsø, Norway. The collection of isolates and initial diagnosis was performed and funded by the participating University hospitals as part of their routine diagnosis.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • S. O. Hjelmevoll
    • 1
  • D. Golparian
    • 2
  • L. Dedi
    • 3
  • D. H. Skutlaberg
    • 4
  • E. Haarr
    • 5
  • A. Christensen
    • 6
  • S. Jørgensen
    • 7
  • Ø. J. Nilsen
    • 8
  • M. Unemo
    • 2
  • V. Skogen
    • 9
    • 10
  1. 1.Department of Microbiology and Infection ControlUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  2. 2.National Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, Department of Laboratory Medicine, MicrobiologyÖrebro University HospitalÖrebroSweden
  3. 3.Department of MicrobiologyOslo University HospitalUllevål, OsloNorway
  4. 4.Department of MicrobiologyHaukeland University HospitalBergenNorway
  5. 5.Department of Medical MicrobiologyStavanger University HospitalStavangerNorway
  6. 6.Department of Microbiology, St. Olavs HospitalTrondheim University HospitalTrondheimNorway
  7. 7.Department of MicrobiologyAkershus University HospitalOsloNorway
  8. 8.Department of Infectious Disease EpidemiologyNorwegian Institute of Public HealthOsloNorway
  9. 9.Department of MedicineUniversity Hospital of North NorwayTromsøNorway
  10. 10.Institute of Clinical MedicineUniversity of TromsøTromsøNorway

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