Gonorrhea reaches ‘superbug’ status


Cases of gonorrhea are rising around the world. Once, an easily treated nuisance, it could be that gonorrhea is on its way to becoming one of the more difficult sexually transmitted diseases to treat. Professor Catherine Ison, a professor from the Health Protection Agency of London, said there is a real possibility that strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae could become resistant to all forms of treatment in the near future.

Gonorrhea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection and can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women. Current first-line treatment is a single dose of the antibiotic ceftriaxone or cefixime. These are having decreased effectiveness against the disease.

“Choosing an effective antibiotic can be a challenge because the organism that causes gonorrhea is very versatile and develops resistance to antibiotics very quickly,” explained Professor Ison at the Society for General Microbiology’s meeting in Edinburgh. “Penicillin was used for many years until it was no longer effective and a number of other agents have been used since. The current drugs of choice, ceftriazone and cefixime, are still very effective but there are signs that resistance particularly to cefixime is emerging and soon these drugs may not be a good choice,” she concluded.

Ongoing monitoring of bacteria resistance is necessary to head off the disease and prepare for its evolution. “There are few new drugs available and so it is probable that the current use of a single dose may soon need to be revised,” Professor Ison speculated. “If this problem isn’t addressed then there is a real possibility that gonorrhea will become a very difficult infection to treat.”

Source: ScienceDaily, Society for General Microbiology


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