Simultaneous detection of Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis by PCR in genitourinary specimens from men and women attending an STD clinic.J Commun Dis 2007; 39(1):1-6JC
Neisseria gonorrhoeae and Chlamydia trachomatis are the two most common bacterial sexually transmitted infections that manifest primarily as urethritis in males and endocervicitis in females, though the infection may be asymptomatic especially in women. Since complications may occur in untreated symptomatic and asymptomatic infected individuals, early diagnosis and treatment of infected individuals is required to prevent severe sequelae and spread of these diseases. Recently molecular amplification assays like Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) and Ligase Chain Reaction (LCR) have been found to be highly sensitive and specific methods for detection of N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachonmatis not only in urethral and cervical specimens but also in urine. The objective of this study was to screen male and female Sexually Transmitted Disease (STD) clinic attenders, with and without symptoms suggestive of urethritis and cervicitis for presence of N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis using a multiplex PCR based assay, to compare its performance with culture for N. gonorrhoeae and Direct Fluorescent Antibody (DFA) staining for C. trachomatis and also to compare the efficacy of PCR test performed on urine and genital swab specimens collected from this high risk group. Genital specimens and urine was collected from STD clinic attenders. N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis was detected in genital specimens by culture and DFA respectively. Multiplex PCR was used to detect N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis infection in both genital and urine specimens. Among men with urethritis, N. gonorrhoeae was detected in 70% by culture and 77% by PCR, while C. trachomatis as detected in 7.5% by DFA and 17.5% by PCR. Among females with endocervicitis, N. gonorrhoeae was detected in 7.7% by culture and 30.7% by PCR, while C. trachomatis was detected in 7.7% by DFA and in 15.4% by PCR. None of the asymptomatic males were positive for N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis by conventional methods, while 43.9% were positive for N. gonorrhoeae and 7.5% for C. trachomatis by PCR. Fifty per cent of asymptomatic women were positive for C. trachomatis by PCR alone. We encountered PCR positive but culture/DFA negative results and also PCR negative but culture/DFA positive results. In view of this a single PCR test cannot be used for diagnosis and treatment of N. gonorrhoeae and C. trachomatis infection unless confirmed by a second test.