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ABSTRACT Infection by Shigella spp. is a common cause of dysentery in Southeast Asia. Antimicrobials are thought to be beneficial for treatment; however, antimicrobial resistance in Shigella spp. is becoming widespread. We aimed to assess the frequency and mechanisms associated with decreased susceptibility to azithromycin in Southeast Asian Shigella isolates and use these data to assess appropriate susceptibility breakpoints. Shigella isolates recovered in Vietnam and Laos were screened for susceptibility to azithromycin (15 μg) by disc diffusion and MIC. Phenotypic resistance was confirmed by PCR amplification of macrolide resistance loci. We compared the genetic relationships and plasmid contents of azithromycin-resistant Shigella sonnei isolates using whole-genome sequences. From 475 available Shigella spp. isolated in Vietnam and Laos between 1994 and 2012, 6/181 S. flexneri isolates (3.3%, MIC ≥ 16 g/liter) and 16/294 S. sonnei isolates (5.4%, MIC ≥ 32 g/liter) were phenotypically resistant to azithromycin. PCR amplification confirmed a resistance mechanism in 22/475 (4.6%) isolates ( mphA in 19 isolates and ermB in 3 isolates). The susceptibility data demonstrated the acceptability of the S. flexneri (MIC ≥ 16 g/liter, zone diameter ≤ 15 mm) and S. sonnei (MIC ≥ 32 g/liter, zone diameter ≤ 11 mm) breakpoints with a <3% discrepancy. Phylogenetic analysis demonstrated that decreased susceptibility has arisen sporadically in Vietnamese S. sonnei isolates on at least seven occasions between 2000 and 2009 but failed to become established. While the proposed susceptibility breakpoints may allow better recognition of resistant isolates, additional studies are required to assess the impact on the clinical outcome. The potential emergence of azithromycin resistance highlights the need for alternative options for management of Shigella infections in countries where Shigella is endemic.

Original publication





Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy


American Society for Microbiology

Publication Date