CDC warns about threat of drug resistant gonorrhoea

According to the U.S. Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), gonorrhoea affects as many as 700,000 Americans each year and the sexually transmitted disease has now become so drug resistant doctors are running out of options with which to treat it.

gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases (STD), it can be a serious one and as a rule doctors prescribe a group of commonly used antibiotics including fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin).

But the CDC has warned that the sexual disorder is now drug resistant and it no longer recommends fluoroquinolone for treating it.

A new study by CDC researchers has found that fluoroquinolone-resistant gonorrhoea is now widespread among American heterosexuals and homosexuals and is beyond the five percent threshold in heterosexuals where a drug can no longer be recommended as a treatment; that threshold was crossed earlier for homosexuals.

The new evidence comes from the CDC's Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project (GISP), which covers 26 U.S. cities and shows that among heterosexual men, the percentage of fluoroquinolone-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae (QRNG) cases went up 11-fold between 2001 and 2006, from 0.6 percent in 2001, and 6.7 percent in early 2006.

In 2005, 339,593 cases were reported nationwide and experts believe the actual number of cases may be twice that figure.

The director of the CDC's Division of STD Prevention, John Douglas says treatment options are now limited to one group of antibiotics only ... the cephalosporins.

The CDC now recommends ceftriaxone which is available as an injection, the preferred treatment for all types of gonorrhoea infection (genital, anal, and throat).

For genital and anal gonorrhoea, there are some alternative oral cephalosporin treatments that doctors can prescribe but there are currently no recommended alternatives for pharyngeal infection.

The CDC is urging state and local health departments to monitor gonorrhoea treatment failures for possible emerging resistance, particularly to cephalosporin and is also working with the World Health Organization to strengthen international efforts to monitor for the emergence of cephalosporin resistance.

The CDC are also working with government and industry partners to identify and evaluate promising new drug regimens which they say are critical for the control of gonorrhoea.

The situation is one of particular concern as infections such as gonorrhoea that pass from one person to another during sexual activity raise the risk of that person passing on or becoming infected with the AIDS virus.

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