TUESDAY, Jan. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant to available antibiotics, including the last oral antibiotic used to treat the bacterium, new Canadian research shows.
In a study of nearly 300 people infected with Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the researchers found a treatment failure rate of nearly 7 percent in people treated with cefixime, the last available oral antibiotic for gonorrhea.
"Gonorrhea is a bacterium that's phenomenal in its ability to mutate quickly, and we no longer have the same abundance of options anymore," said study author Dr. Vanessa Allen, a medical microbiologist with Public Health Ontario in Toronto. "We need to start thinking about how we give antibiotics in view of a pipeline that's ending. I think gonorrhea will become a paradigm for drug resistance in general."
Another expert agreed.
"We've been lucky. For quite some time, we've had treatments for gonorrhea that are simple, cheap and effective, and a single dose," explained Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy, a medical epidemiologist with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study. "But now we're running out of treatment options, and there's a very real possibility that there will be untreatable gonorrhea in the future. This is a serious public health crisis on the horizon."
The CDC is so concerned that the agency issued new treatment recommendations last August. The CDC advised doctors to stop using cefixime to treat gonorrhea, and instead use the injectable antibiotic ceftriaxone. Ceftriaxone is in the same class of antibiotics as cefixime.
The CDC has also recommended that physicians closely monitor their patients to ensure that the treatment is working, and to add a second class of antibiotics to treatment if they suspect the ceftriaxone injection hasn't knocked out th
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