OBJECTIVE--To characterise Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates from Singapore. DESIGN--Characterisation of Neisseria gonorrhoeae isolates by auxotyping, serological analysis and plasmid profile analysis. SPECIMENS--Sixty randomly collected isolates from 41 symptomatic, untreated males and 19 female prostitutes were studied. RESULTS--Auxotyping of 25 PPNG and 35 non-PPNG strains showed that the Pro-auxotype was prevalent among both PPNG (56%) and non-PPNG (42.5%) strains. Prototrophic strains comprised 28% of PPNG and 32.5% of non-PPNG strains respectively. Serovar analysis showed that with the exception of seven serogroup WI strains, the majority belonged to serogroup WII/III. Serovar Aedih was predominant among both serogroup WI PPNG (80%) and non-PPNG (100%) strains. Serogroup WII/III PPNG strains were represented by nine serovars with the predominant serovars being Bacjk (28%) and Bcgjk (16%). Eleven serovars were identified in the WII/III non-PPNG strains and the major serovars were Bajk (20%), Bacjk (17%), Back (11.4%) and Beghjk (11.4%). Analysis of the 25 PPNG strains showed that 16 of them carried the 4.4 MDa (Asian type) resistance plasmid and nine strains harboured the 4.4 MDa plasmid in conjunction with the 24.5 MDa transfer plasmid. The cryptic plasmid of 2.6 MDa was present in 27 of the 35 non-PPNG strains. Five of the non-PPNG strains harbouring the cryptic plasmid also contained the 24.5 MDa transfer plasmid. The plasmid combination of 2.6 + 7.8 + 24.5 MDa was detected in three non-PPNG strains. CONCLUSION--The combination of epidemiological methods used in this study indicated the heterogeneity of N gonorrhoeae strains in Singapore. A total of 16 different combinations of auxotype, plasmid profile and serovar were seen in the 25 PPNG strains compared with 24 such combinations in the 35 non-PPNG strains. Such sensitive differentiation would otherwise not be possible using either auxotype-serovar (A/S) or auxotype-plasmid analysis.
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