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Keywords:

  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae;
  • phenotypic and genotypic characterisation;
  • antibiotic resistance;
  • NG-MAST;
  • Sweden

In Sweden, the gonorrhoea incidence has significantly increased since an all-time low in 1996. We aimed to phenotypically and genotypically characterise N. gonorrhoeae isolates (n=180) transmitted in Sweden during 2005. All isolates were susceptible to cefixime, ceftriaxone, and spectinomycin. However, 2%, 50% and 75% displayed intermediate susceptibility or resistance to azithromycin, ciprofloxacin and ampicillin, respectively. The isolates were assigned to 28 different serovars using Genetic Systems monoclonal antibodies (Mabs) (discriminatory index, 91.0%) and 46 different serovars using Pharmacia Mabs (index, 94.4%). Furthermore, they displayed 95 porB sequences (index, 97.8%) and 95 N. gonorrhoeae multiantigen sequence typing (NG-MAST) sequence types (STs) (index, 98.0%). 51 (54%) of these STs have not been previously described. 14 ST clusters, comprising between 3 and 15 isolates, were identified that indicate the existence of several transmission chains. The high number of unique STs (n=63) may be associated with import of strains from abroad, local emergence of new STs, incomplete epidemiological surveillance, and/or suboptimal diagnostics, including contact tracing. Overall, the Swedish N. gonorrhoeae population was remarkably diversified. Comprehensive knowledge regarding transmission, phenotypes (including antibiotic resistance), but also in many cases highly discriminative and precise genotypic characteristics of the N. gonorrhoeae strains circulating in our societies, is crucial.