PLoS One 2019 3;14(4):e0213312. Epub 2019 Apr 3.
WHO Collaborating Centre for Sexually Transmitted Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, New South Wales Health Pathology, Microbiology, Prince of Wales Hospital, Randwick, New South Wales, Australia.
Background: Antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae is a global concern, with the ongoing emergence of ceftriaxone and azithromycin resistance threatening current treatment paradigms. To monitor the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in N. gonorrhoeae, the World Health Organization (WHO) Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme (GASP) has operated in the Western Pacific and South East Asian regions since 1992. The true burden of antimicrobial resistance remains unknown. In response, the objective of this study was to survey ceftriaxone and azithromycin susceptibility in N. gonorrhoeae across the western Pacific and south-east Asia, and interlink this data with systematically reviewed reports of ceftriaxone and azithromycin resistance.
Methods And Findings: The WHO Collaborating Centre for Sexually Transmitted Infections and Antimicrobial Resistance, Sydney, coordinated annual surveys of gonococcal susceptibilities with participating laboratories, and additionally undertook a systematic review of reports detailing gonococcal ceftriaxone and azithromycin susceptibility data for locations geographically in the Asia Pacific from 2011 to 2016. It was found that surveillance of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance remains limited in the Asia Pacific, with weaker surveillance of azithromycin versus ceftriaxone. Ninety-three published reports were identified (including national reports) which documented susceptibility data for ceftriaxone and azithromycin. GASP survey data was available for 21 countries, territories or areas, and suggested MICs are increasing for ceftriaxone and azithromycin. Between 2011 and 2016, the percentage of locations reporting >5% of gonococcal isolates with MICs to ceftriaxone meeting WHO's definition of decreased susceptibility (MIC ≥ 0.125 mg/L) increased from 14.3% to 35.3% and the percentage of locations reporting >5% of gonococcal isolates with azithromycin resistance (MIC ≥ 1 mg/L) increased from 14.3% to 38.9%. Published reports were available for several countries that did not provide GASP surveillance responses for ceftriaxone (n = 5) and azithromycin (n = 3) respectively. Over the study period, there was a 183% increase in the number of countries providing surveillance data for GASP for both ceftriaxone and azithromycin, and a 30.6% increase in ceftriaxone MIC testing across the Asia Pacific facilitated by this project.
Conclusion: This study provides the first comprehensive illustration of increasing MICs to ceftriaxone in the Asia Pacific. The survey and literature review additionally detail increasing resistance to azithromycin. Further surveillance system strengthening is required to monitor these trends in order to address and curb gonococcal AMR in the region.