Background and objectives: A Gonococcal Antimicrobial Susceptibility Program (GASP) under the World Health Organization South East Asia Region (WHO SEAR) is continuing in India and neighboring countries and is being coordinated by the WHO Regional Reference Laboratory (RRL), Vardhman Mahavir Medical College, and Safdarjung Hospital, New Delhi.
Goal: The present communication describes the current status and trends of antimicrobial resistance patterns of Neisseria gonorrhoeae, isolated in different focal-point laboratories under GASP, as presented in WHO SEAR intercountry consultative meeting conducted in December 2001.
Study: Seven laboratories from India and 1 each from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, and Nepal presented their data for the year 2000/2001. In addition, RRL Delhi, Bangladesh, and Sri Lanka presented data for the years 1995 to 2001, 1997 to 2001, and 1996 to 2000, respectively. Either National Committee for Clinical Laboratory Standards or calibrated dichotomous sensitivity technique was used in the different laboratories for determining antimicrobial susceptibility.
Results: It was observed that in the Indian laboratories, penicillin resistance varied from 20% to 79%, tetracycline resistance from 0% to 45.6%, and ciprofloxacin from 10.6% to 100%. Chromosomal, as well as plasmid-mediated resistance, was observed. The strains were reported to be less sensitive to ceftriaxone in 5 out of 7 laboratories, while none reported spectinomycin resistance. The reasons for wide variation in the results could be due to geographical strain difference in different parts of this vast country. At Sri Lanka, gonococci showed resistance towards penicillin (96.8%) and ciprofloxacin (8.2%). Bangladesh reported N. gonorrhoeae with ciprofloxacin (76%), penicillin (33%), and tetracycline (50%) resistance and decreased susceptibility to ceftriaxone (1.5%). Both the laboratories did not report any spectinomycin resistance. The resistance trends in these 2 centers and the RRL, New Delhi, showed different patterns.
Conclusion: The report indicates the necessity for continuous surveillance of antimicrobial resistance pattern in this region of WHO for establishing antimicrobial policy guidelines for management of this common but important sexually transmitted infection (STI) pathogen, known to facilitate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) infection. It also highlights the importance of ensuring quality assurance in the techniques in order to generate uniform data.