Background: Neisseria gonorrhoeae is identified as a priority pathogen due to its capacity to rapidly develop antimicrobial resistance (AMR). Following the easing of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic travel restrictions across international borders in the state of New South Wales (NSW), Australia, a surge of gonococcal isolates with raised ceftriaxone MIC values were detected.
Methods: All N. gonorrhoeae isolates (n = 150) with increased ceftriaxone MIC values in NSW between 1 January 2021 and July 2022 from males and females from all sites were sequenced.
Results: A new emergence and rapid expansion of an N. gonorrhoeae ST7827 clone was documented within NSW, Australia and provides further evidence of the ability of N. gonorrhoeae to undergo sufficient genomic changes and re-emerge as a geographically restricted subclone. Mapping AMR determinants to MIC results did not reveal any genomic pattern that correlated with MIC values.
Conclusions: The rapid dissemination and establishment of this clone at the population level is a new and concerning demonstration of the agility of this pathogen, and underscores concerns about similar incursions and establishment of MDR clones. Moreover, it is notable that in this context the AMR genotype-phenotype correlates remain unclear, which requires further investigation to enable better understanding of genomic aspects of AMR in N. gonorrhoeae.
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