Molecular surveillance to monitor the prevalence of tetracycline resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae

medRxiv [Preprint]. 2024 May 7:2024.05.07.24306823. doi: 10.1101/2024.05.07.24306823.


Doxycycline post-exposure prophylaxis (Doxy-PEP) reduces bacterial sexually transmitted infections (STIs) but may select for tetracycline resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae and co-resistance to other antibiotics, including ceftriaxone.. The implementation of doxy-PEP should be accompanied by monitoring doxycycline resistance, but the optimal strategy to detect changes in the prevalence of resistance has not been established. We used a deterministic compartmental model of gonorrhea transmission to evaluate the performance of two strategies in providing early warning signals for rising resistance: (1) phenotypic testing of cultured isolates and (2) PCR for tetM in remnants from positive Nucleic Acid Amplification Tests (NAATs) used for gonorrhea diagnosis. For each strategy, we calculated the resistance proportion with 90% simulation intervals as well as the time under each sampling strategy to achieve 95% confidence that the resistance proportion exceeded a resistance threshold ranging from 11-30%. Given the substantially larger available sample size, PCR for tetM in remnant NAATs detected increased high-level tetracycline resistance with high confidence faster than phenotypic testing of cultured specimens. Our results suggest that population surveillance using molecular testing for tetM can complement culturebased surveillance of tetracycline resistance in N. gonorrhoeae and inform policy considerations for doxy-PEP.

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  • Preprint