Possible 'superbug' status for sexually-transmitted infection

Mar 29, 2010

The rise of multidrug resistance in gonorrhoea-causing bacteria is threatening to make this sexually-transmitted infection extremely difficult to treat. Professor Catherine Ison, speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's spring meeting in Edinburgh, highlighted the very real possibility that strains of Neisseria gonorrhoeae resistant to all current treatment options could emerge in the near future.

Professor Ison, from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in London, described how some of the gonococcal bacteria that cause the disease are now showing decreased sensitivity to the current used to treat them - ceftriaxone and cefixime.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial sexually-transmitted infection and if left untreated can lead to , ectopic pregnancy and in women. Current treatment consists of a single dose of antibiotic given in the clinic when prescribed, by mouth for cefixime and by injection for ceftriaxone.

"Choosing an effective antibiotic can be a challenge because the organism that causes gonorrhoea is very versatile and develops resistance to antibiotics very quickly," explained Professor Ison. " 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, 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," she said.

isolated from patients diagnosed with gonorrhoea are tested for their susceptibility to various antibiotics to monitor patterns of resistance at a local and national level. Ongoing monitoring of antimicrobial resistance is critical to ensure that first-line treatments for gonorrhoea remain effective. "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," Professor Ison warned. "If this problem isn't addressed then there is a real possibility that gonorrhoea will become a very difficult infection to treat," she said.

Explore further: Swatting chikungunya

Provided by Society for General Microbiology

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Probing Question: How does antibiotic resistance happen?

Mar 05, 2009

Before Alexander Fleming's discovery of penicillin in 1928, there were any number of unpleasant ways that bacteria could kill you. Countless women died from infection after childbirth, and a simple chest cold could turn into ...

Resistant gut bacteria will not go away by themselves

Jun 19, 2007

E. coli bacteria that have developed resistance to antibiotics will probably still be around even if we stop using antibiotics, as these strains have the same good chance as other bacteria of continuing to colonise the gut, ...

New antibiotic beats superbugs at their own game

Jul 03, 2008

The problem with antibiotics is that, eventually, bacteria outsmart them and become resistant. But by targeting the gene that confers such resistance, a new drug may be able to finally outwit them. Rockefeller ...

Bacterial 'sex' causes antibiotic resistance

Jun 11, 2009

Some disease-causing bacteria are becoming resistant to antibiotics because they have peculiar sex lives, say researchers publishing new results today in the journal Science. The new study helps scientists understand how ba ...

Recommended for you

Swatting chikungunya

24 minutes ago

Summer days may be waning, but health officials are still on high alert for new cases of chikungunya, a painful mosquito-borne virus that spread to the United States from the tropics earlier this year. ...

Sierra Leone readies for controversial Ebola lockdown

34 minutes ago

Sierra Leone prepared Thursday for an unprecedented three-day nationwide lockdown to contain the deadly spread of the Ebola virus in a controversial move which experts claimed could worsen the epidemic.

Nepal adopts jab to boost polio fight

50 minutes ago

Nepal on Thursday launched a drive to eradicate polio by supplementing oral vaccines with an injection that experts say will boost children's immunity against the disease.

User comments : 0