The last remaining oral treatment of gonorrhea failed to cure nearly seven percent of patients at a clinic in Toronto Canada. The study causes researchers to fear gonorrhea may become untreatable.
A Canadian study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Associations, says this is the first time a strain that is resistant to antibiotics has shown up in North America. Outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea have been reported in Europe and Japan.
In an interview with Fox News, Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s division for sexually transmitted diseases, said, “We’ve been very concerned about the threat of potentially untreatable gonorrhea in the United States.” There have been cases in Europe, but “this is the first time we’ve had such a report in the actual North American continent. We feel it’s only a matter of time until resistance will occur in the United States,” she said.
Up until this point the signs of any strains of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in North America have only been discovered in labs. These lab cultures have shown they need a steady increase in the amount of the antibiotic cefixime to kill the gonorrhea. Because of this resistance, US health officials had already ordered doctors to top prescribing cefixime. That left US doctors with only treatment which was injectible antibiotic called ceftriaxon
During the study, Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario and her colleagues studied 291 paitents with gonorrhea between May 2010 and April 2011 who where treated with cefixime at the Toronto clinic. They looked for any patients that were still infected during follow-up visits. They found 13 of the 291 patients were still infected. Only nine said they had not had any sexual contact that could have reinfected them. According to Yahoo News Allen said:
“The next threat is when, not if, the same thing happens with ceftriaxone. And then what? I think without a doubt this will become a bigger problem.”
Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhea and is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. If left untreated it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, severe eye infections in babies and infertility in both men and women. There are approximately 300,000 cases of gonorrhea each year. Because many infected people have no symptoms the actual number of cases is more likely to be closer to 600,000 Bolan told Fox News.