WebMD Medical News
Laura J. Martin, MD
March 29, 2010 -- Gonorrhea may soon reach superbug status, thanks to
growing antibiotic resistance to the common sexually transmitted infection.
A new study shows that treating gonorrhea is becoming more difficult because
the bacterium has become resistant to many antibiotics. If trends continue,
researchers say there is a very real possibility that some strains of
Neisseria gonorrhoeae may become resistant to all current treatment
Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted bacterial infection. If left
untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic
pregnancy, and infertility in women. Treatment for gonorrhea usually consists
of a single dose of one of two antibiotics, cefixime or ceftriaxone.
"Choosing an effective antibiotic can be a challenge because the organism
that causes gonorrhea is very versatile and develops resistance to antibiotics
very quickly," researcher Catherine Ison, professor at the Health Protection
Agency Centre for Infections in London, says in a news release. "Penicillin was
used for many years until it was no longer effective and a number of other
agents have been used since.”
Ison presented a report on the growing antibiotic resistance of gonorrhea at
the Society for General Microbiology Spring Meeting this week in Edinburgh,
Scotland. She says the bacterium that causes gonorrhea is highly versatile and
adept at acquiring and developing resistance to antibiotics.
“The current drugs of choice, ceftriaxone 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," Ison says.
"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 and treatment over several
days or with more than one antibiotic will need to be considered," Ison says.
"If this problem isn't addressed then there is a real possibility that
gonorrhea will become a very difficult infection to treat."
SOURCES:Society for General Microbiology Spring Meeting, Edinburgh, Scotland, March
29, 2010.News release, Society for General Microbiology.
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