BACKGROUND: The Hungarian national guidelines for the treatment of gonorrhoea were published in 2002 but are now widely considered to be outdated. Improved knowledge is needed with respect to the epidemiology and antimicrobial susceptibility of Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains currently circulating in Hungary not least for the construction of updated local recommendations for treating gonorrhoea. European guidelines are based mostly on western European data raising concerns locally that recommended treatments might not be optimised for the situation in Hungary. We report our recent study on the distribution of antibiotic resistance in various Hungarian (East European) Neisseria gonorrhoeae strains isolated from patients with gonorrhoea over the past four years.
METHODS: Between January 2010 and December 2013, isolates of N. gonorrhoeae were obtained from sexually active individuals during medical examination at the STD Center of Semmelweis University in Budapest. The minimal inhibitory concentrations (MIC) of azithromycin, cefixime, ceftriaxone, ciprofloxacin, penicillin, tetracycline and spectinomycin were determined to establish the antimicrobial susceptibility of the strains currently circulating in patients that attend our clinic.
RESULTS: Among the 9097 patients tested, 582 had an N. gonorrhoeae infection as detected by culture. The isolates were all sensitive to ceftriaxone and spectinomycin and 581/582 strains were sensitive to cefixime. In contrast, the number of detected strains with elevated azithromycin MIC did increase over the time period examined to approximately 16% in 2013. There was a high percentage of detected resistance to penicillin (77%), tetracycline (86%), and ciprofloxacin (66%) in the isolates examined in this study.
CONCLUSION: Current European guidelines recommend 2 g azithromycin in addition to 500 mg ceftriaxone as first choice therapy for gonorrhoea. For the purposes of revising the Hungarian national treatment guidelines, apparent increasing resistance to azithromycin during the last four years should be accounted for. It is also clear that penicillin, tetracycline and ciprofloxacin are inappropriate treatment measures at least locally. We also recommend that culture should form part of the diagnostic pathway of gonorrhoea, followed by antibiotic susceptibility testing with MIC determination. This will provide valuable continued monitoring of antibiotic resistance development in strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae circulating in Hungary.
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