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Gonorrhea Becoming More Resistant to Antibiotics, May Soon Become Untreatable, CDC Says

Jul 18, 2016 01:27 AM EDT
A new CDC study revealed that gonorrhea are showing signs of developing resistance to the most common type of antibiotics, potentially complicating treatment substantially.
(Photo : Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

A new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Neisseria gonorrhoeae are becoming resistant to antibiotics in 2014, with large percentage becoming immune to the recommended treatment of azithromycin and ceftriaxone.

The study, published in the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, noted that it is still unclear whether the trend of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is temporary or can be the beginning of an much stronger venereal disease. However, the researchers are sure that the emergence of gonorrhea resistant to both azithromycin and cetriaxone will complicate gonorrhea treatment substantially.

"The increases are cause for concern and highlight the need for immediate action on a number of fronts to ensure that our ability to treat people with gonorrhea stays intact," Robert Kirkcaldy, MD, MPH, of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention and corresponding author of the study, explained in a report in CIDRAP News."Because history shows us that resistance to our current antibiotics will develop, it is critical that we take steps now by strengthening our surveillance efforts, identifying new treatment options, and ensuring local STD prevention services are available to those who need them."

For the study, the researchers examined 5,093 isolates of N gonorrhea collected in 2014 as part of a nationwide surveillance program. The researchers discovered that 2.5 percent of the gonorrhea isolate in the study were resistant to azithromocyn, up from o.6 percent in 2014. On the other hand the resistant to ceftriaxone remained at 0.1 percent.

Furthermore, the researchers found out that 25 percent of the isolates in the study were resistant to tetracycline, while 19 percent were resistant to ciproflaxin and 16 percent were resistant to penicillin.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that estimated to affect 800,000 people in the United States annually. CDC recommends people with gonorrhea to be treated with the combination of azithromycin and cetriaxone because if the most strain that is resistant to either one of the drug will respond to the other. However, specialists at CDC warns against the use of azithromycin alone because it might encourage further resistant to the drug.

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