Persistence after treatment of pharyngeal gonococcal infections in patients of the STI clinic, Amsterdam, the Netherlands, 2012–2015: a retrospective cohort study

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Infection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae in the pharynx (pharyngeal Ng) is associated with gonococcal transmission and development of antimicrobial resistance. We assessed proportion of and determinants for persistence after treatment of pharyngeal Ng.


At the STI clinic of Amsterdam, the Netherlands, females-at-risk and men who have sex with men are routinely screened for pharyngeal Ng using an RNA-based nucleic acid amplification test (NAAT; Aptima Combo 2). Patients with pharyngeal Ng were invited for a test-of-cure (TOC) 7 days after treatment with a 500 mg ceftriaxone intramuscularly. We retrospectively examined medical records of patients with pharyngeal Ng (January 2012–August 2015) who returned for a TOC 7–28 days after treatment. Persistence was defined as a positive NAAT at TOC.


Out of 2204 pharyngeal Ng cases recorded in the study period, 781 cases (median time between first treatment and TOC of 8 (IQR 7–12) days) were included in the analysis. Persistence after treatment was found in 36 (4.6%) and was less likely among patients who received ceftriaxone in combination with other antibiotics (vs monotherapy) (adjusted OR (aOR) 0.36, 95% CI 0.12 to 1.04) and with longer time from treatment to TOC (aOR 0.74, 95% CI 0.60 to 0.90, per extra day). In those with a TOC 15–28 days after treatment, Ng persisted in only 1.0% (1/105 cases).


A small proportion of pharyngeal Ng persists despite appropriate treatment. Combining ceftriaxone with other antibiotics appears to lead to faster clearance. A TOC for pharyngeal Ng 7 days after treatment may be too soon.

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