The United States is investigating the first cases “related” to a new strain of drug-resistant gonorrhea

Massachusetts health authorities announced Thursday that they have identified two cases of a new strain of gonorrhea that appears to have developed resistance to a wide range of antibiotic treatments.

Both patients improved after receiving an injection of ceftriaxone, currently the main drug Recommended To treat sexually transmitted infections. But state health officials warn that the strain that infected them is showing signs of at least some resistance to almost every drug to treat the bacteria, the first of its kind confirmed in the United States so far.

Investigators are now working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to test other samples collected from gonorrhea cases in the state. Massachusetts is also conducting contact tracing to see if the drug-resistant strain has spread to others.

“The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea is a serious public health concern, as the Department of Public Health, CDC, and other health departments have been vigilant about its discovery,” Massachusetts Department of Public Health chief Margaret Cooke said in a statement Thursday.

Gonorrhea is The second most common The sexually transmitted infection has been reported to health authorities in the United States, behind chlamydia, according to the CDC.

Many injured bacteria They often have few or no symptoms. However, some can develop bleeding, discharge, and more serious complications that can lead to infertility and pain.

The primary case was identified in a patient who went to a primary care clinic with symptoms urethritis;A type of irritation that may make urination difficult. Samples examined by the state health laboratory indicated a “worrying” pattern that was later verified by follow-up testing by the CDC.

A state spokesperson declined to elaborate on additional details about the two cases, beyond those identified in the department Advertising And Warning for service providers.

No direct link between the two cases has been established. None of them had a recent travel history, which would suggest the strain could be circulating within the state.

“We urge all sexually active people to have regular testing for STDs and to consider reducing the number of sexual partners they have and increasing their use of condoms when having sex,” Cook said.

Gonorrhea’s drug resistance ‘alarming’

For years, health authorities have I was working to answer to the “disturbing” potential that gonorrhea must have Develop resistance against antibiotics that have been published to combat it.

In 2013, the Centers for Disease Control classified gonorrhea as one of the three the most immediate threats formed by antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Launched by both US and global health authorities campaigns To reduce new cases of gonorrhea in hopes of controlling the bacteria until new vaccines and treatments are developed.

The Massachusetts cases are the first laboratory-confirmed cases to have developed the ability to curl up Six out of seven Medications pursued by health authorities for possible resistance. Carries a change to the ‘penA60 allele’ – a genetic mutation – that has been linked to previous ceftriaxone-resistant cases in nvAnd United kingdomand Asia.

“This case is a reminder that antimicrobial-resistant gonorrhea remains an urgent public health threat, both nationally and internationally; and all providers in all clinical settings must remain vigilant,” Dr. Laura Hinkle-Bachmann, chief medical officer of the Division of Communicable Disease Prevention CDC sexual, said Thursday in Message for service providers.

Ceftriaxone injections, boosted with other oral antibiotics such as azithromycin and doxycycline, were the last treatment recommended for gonorrhea. Since 2012. At the time, laboratory data showed that a related drug known as cefixime was losing its effectiveness and risked creating resistance to ceftriaxone as well.

Only one drug tested against the Massachusetts strain by the CDC — gentamicin — showed no sign of reduced sensitivity. However, this drug is already generally considered a less effective treatment for gonorrhea.

Scientists follow new gonorrhea drugs such as zoliflodacin, which showed promising early results in a 2018 study backed by From the National Institutes of Health. This drug is currently under study in clinical trials It is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration for gonorrhea.

“Timely identification and treatment, as well as a rapid public health response, are essential to keeping patients safe and reducing the risk of transmission in the community. We must all remain alert to the possibility of gonococcal treatment failure as we combat the growing threat of antimicrobial resistance,” Bachmann said. .

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