Antibiotic Resistant Gonorrhea Spreading, Leaving Sufferers Without Treatment Prospect
Gonorrhea sufferers are facing the prospect of no available treatment as the disease becomes ever more resistant to antibiotics.
In a study issued this week by the World Health Organization, researchers are warning that the sexually transmitted disease is showing resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics – the last treatment option against gonorrhea. Since physicians began employing antibiotics against the pathogen, it has developed resistance to penicillin, tetracyclines, and quinolones. The latest evidence suggests that people afflicted with gonorrhea may have no way to fight the infection that can lead to serious health problems.
“We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option – the class of cephalosporin antibiotics – as there are not new therapeutic drugs in development,” says Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan of the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO. “If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant.”
The health problems can be severe. Untreated gonococcal infection can cause:
• infections of the urethra, cervix, and rectum;
• infertility in men and women;
• a significantly increased risk of HIV infection and transmission;
• ectopic pregnancy, spontaneous abortion, stillbirths and premature deliveries; and
• serious eye infections in babies born to women with gonorrhea leading to blindness.
In response to the burgeoning crisis, the World Health Organization is urging more vigilance regarding the correct use of antibiotics and more research into alternative treatment options. The organization’s Global Action Plan also calls for increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains as well as better prevention. Health organizations worldwide have been advocating for greater care on the part of doctors in the frequency and use of prescribing antibiotics. The tendency to over-prescribe antibiotics has led to many drug-resistant strains of a variety of diseases once thought under control. Also, the poor quality of antibiotics and the natural genetic mutations within disease organisms contribute to the buildup of defense mechanisms within infectious diseases.
“Gonorrhea is becoming a major public health challenge due to the high evidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,” says Dr. Lusti-Narasimhan. “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.
Gonorrhea is one of four major curable sexually transmitted diseases. The others are syphilis, chlamydial infection, and trichomoniasis.