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The epidemiology of gonococcal arthritis in an Indigenous Australian population
  1. Camilla S L Tuttle1,
  2. Thomas Van Dantzig2,
  3. Stephen Brady2,
  4. James Ward1,
  5. Graeme Maguire1,2,3
  1. 1Baker IDI Central Australia, Alice Springs Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
  2. 2Alice Springs Hospital, Alice Springs, Northern Territory, Australia
  3. 3School of Medicine, James Cook University, Cairns, Queensland, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Graeme Maguire, Baker IDI Central Australia, Alice Springs Hospital, Rubuntja Building, Gap Road, Alice Springs, N T 0870, Australia; Graeme.maguire{at}


Background Disseminated Gonococcal Infection (DGI) is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteraemia. Typically the primary source is a sexually acquired mucosal infection. If not recognised and treated promptly DGI can be associated with significant morbidity and, in rare cases, death. Central Australia has one of the highest rates of gonococcal notifications in Australia. Despite this, the nature and prevalence of complications arising from gonococcal infections within this at-risk population is unknown.

Methods Enhanced surveillance and audit of patients with DGI discharged from Alice Springs Hospital between 2003 and 2012. Patient demographics and clinical management data were extracted from healthcare records and investigation databases.

Results DGI cases were significantly more likely to present in young (≤29 years) Indigenous women compared with young Indigenous men (χ2, p=0.020). Overall Indigenous women had nearly twice the risk of DGI compared with men (relative risk 1.92 (95% CI 1.45 to 2.53)). The incidence of DGI per all gonococcal notifications on average was 911/100 000 (95% CI 717 to 1142) gonococcal notifications.

Conclusions DGI represents a severe complication of N. gonorrhoeae infection. In Central Australia DGI is not a rare oddity but rather an important differential when dealing with patients with undefined sepsis and associated joint disease.


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