Shot Now Recommended as Gonorrhea Treatment: Bacterium Builds Resistance to Pills
CDC on Thursday announced it no longer recommends treatment of gonorrhea with the oral antibiotic cefixime, a bid to counteract the STD’s growing resistance to the drug. For gonorrhea patients, CDC now recommends the combination of a shot of ceftriaxone plus a round of either azithromycin or doxycycline treatment.
“This change is a critical pre-emptive strike to preserve ceftriaxone, our last proven treatment option” against gonorrhea, said Dr. Kevin Fenton, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention. The new treatment approach “may buy us time” to find a new class of gonorrhea drugs, said Dr. Gail Bolan, director of CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.
The STD first became curable with the introduction of sulfa drugs in the 1940s. However, the ease with which it mutates has led it to become resistant to several classes of drugs, including penicillins, tetracyclines, and fluoroquinolones.
While a case resulting in “treatment failure” has not yet been reported in the United States, several have been found in Asia and Europe. One such strain, H041, was detected in the throat of a sex worker in Japan.
Treatment of gonorrhea now has shifted from taking a pill to getting an injection by a certified health professional, said William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. The change means new treatments must be found quickly, and staff and budgets of state STD health departments must be replenished, he said.
[PNU editor’s note: “Update to CDC’s Sexually Transmitted Diseases Treatment Guidelines, 2010: Oral Cephalosporins No Longer a Recommended Treatment for Gonococcal Infections,” was published in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (2012;61(31):590-594) and can be accessed by visiting: http://www.cdc.gov/mmwr/preview/mmwrhtml/mm6131a3.htm?s_cid=mm6131a3_w.]
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