Public health officials say they have discovered two cases of gonorrhea that appear to have reduced exposure to every type of antibiotic available to treat them. It is the first time that an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea has been identified in the United States.
An increase in sexual activity during the pandemic, along with a decrease in the number of people undergoing routine health checks, spread increased of sexually transmitted diseases around the world.
Those infections, including gonorrhea, are becoming increasingly resistant to the antibiotics available to treat them, a problem that has become a serious public health threat.
Globally, antibiotic-resistant infections kill nearly 700,000 people each year. this number It is expected to rise to 10 million deaths annually by 2050 if steps are not taken to stop the spread of resistant organisms.
Experts say the question was never when the highly resistant strain of gonorrhea would reach the United States, but when.
“The concern is that this particular strain was spreading around the world, so it was only a matter of time before it hit the United States,” says Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, clinical professor of public health at USC’s Keck University. Los Angeles College of Medicine.
“It’s a reminder that gonorrhea is becoming increasingly resistant, increasingly difficult to treat. We don’t have any new antibiotics. We haven’t had new antibiotics to treat gonorrhea in years,” said Klausner, who sits on the CDC’s Working Group on Gonorrhea. And we really need a different treatment strategy.”
Gonorrhea is transmitted through sexual contact, and is one of the most common infections in the United States. It is caused by bacteria structure, Which can infect the mucous membranes of the genitals, rectum, throat and eyes.
People can be infected without showing symptoms. If left untreated, the infection can cause pelvic pain, infertility in women, and blindness in newborn babies.
In addition to reduced susceptibility to ceftriaxone, the gonorrhea strains identified in Massachusetts also showed reduced susceptibility to cefixime and azithromycin. The strains were resistant to ciprofloxacin, penicillin and tetracycline, according to a clinical alert sent to doctors by the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
the MDPH says No link has yet been found between the two cases.
In 2021, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended giving a double dose of the antibiotic ceftriaxone in an attempt to overcome the resistance of bacteria to build up this antibiotic, and this seems to have worked in these cases, but this antibiotic is the last line of defense against these infections, and he says Experts say a new approach is needed.
Klausner hopes to win approval from the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for a test that would tailor antibiotic treatment to the genetic susceptibilities of the particular strain of gonorrhea that a person has. This is called Resistance-targeted therapyt, and klausner say it works for hiv, tuberculosis, and some hospital-acquired infections, but has never been tried for gonorrhea.
This strain of gonorrhea was previously seen in Asia-Pacific countries and the United Kingdom, but not in the United States. A genetic marker common to these two Massachusetts residents was also seen in a case in Nevada, although this strain retained sensitivity to at least one class of antibiotics.
The first symptoms of gonorrhea are often painful urination, abdominal or pelvic pain, increased vaginal discharge, or bleeding between periods, but many infections are asymptomatic. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Preventionwhich makes routine checks important for infection.