Neisseria gonorrhoeae is the etiological agent of gonorrhea and remains a major sexually transmitted infection worldwide. In the United Kingdom, the number of gonorrhea cases has been rising each year since 1995 (more than 60 million cases) (Ward et al., 2000) with a 56% increase overall, including a 25% rise in 1999 (Ward et al., 2000).
Due to the extensive antigenic variability of many gonococcal surface components, no effective vaccine for N. gonorrhoeae is available (Unemo et al., 2003). Geographic and international surveillance of the epidemiological characteristics as well as the antibiotic susceptibilities of the pathogen become essential in the prevention and control of this infection. From both local and global perspectives, N. gonorrhoeae strains continue to evolve phenotypically and genotypically over time. It is therefore essential to develop discriminative and precise characterization laboratory techniques that can help control the transmission of infections, especially those caused by antibiotic-resistant strains.
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