CDC warns of ‘gonorrhea epidemic’ as STD beats all but one of our antibiotics

U.S. health officials are warning a  widespread drug used to treat gonorrhea has been rendered ineffective, leaving  only one drug option to defend against one of the most rampant sexually  transmitted diseases in America.

The bacteria that causes gonorrhea has become  resistant to antibiotics used to treat the condition, according to a new report  from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The CDC’s announcement echos concerns raised  by the World Health Organization (WHO) earlier this summer, that sounded the  alarm that a widespread treatment for the disease was not longer  viable.

gonorrhoeae

Dwindling treatment options: Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that  causes gonorrhea, has become resistant to antibiotics used to treat the  condition, according to a new report from the CDC

Roughly 700,000 cases of gonorrhea occur in  the U.S. annually, of the estimated 106 million people each year who are  infected worldwide.

In the U.S., it is most prevalent among  African Americans and sexually active teenagers and young adults.

Since 2007, the Atlanta-based agency has  recommended cefixime, an oral medication under the brand name Suprax, as the  first line of defense to combat the spread of the infection.

But now the CDC believes cefixime is not  adequately treating the condition and patients can no longer rely on it as a  viable option.

With cefixime no  longer being recommended, only one  treatment is left available to those  suffering from the disease,  commonly referred to as ‘The Clap.’

Instead, patients with the condition are  advised to receive an antibiotic delivered by injection, known as ceftriaxone.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium  Neisseria gonorrhea and spreads through  sexual activity, but has been known at  times to spread from an untreated mother to her baby during  childbirth.

The sexually transmitted disease (STD) can  grow easily in the warm, moist  areas of the reproductive tract, including the  cervix, uterus, and  fallopian tubes in women, and in the urethra in both women  and men.

Those infected, particularly women, can show  no symptoms.  Symptoms for men  include a burning sensation when urinating, or colored  discharge.

Complications from the disease can include  infertility and chronic pelvic pain in women and in men.

In most patients, a urine test can be used to  test for gonorrhea.

This change could become problematic because  the shot is not typically stocked in a doctor’s office and usually only found in  STD clinics.

Patients also tend to prefer pills to  injections and might be less likely to seek the injectable  option.

With only one treatment deemed effective,  health officials also fear the infection will eventually develop a resistance  against ceftriaxone.

‘Gonorrhea is  becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of  infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,’ Dr Manjula  Lusti-Narasimhan, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at  WHO, said in a statement in June.

‘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.’

The CDC and National Institutes of Health  will review potential treatment alternatives but fear research and development  for gonorrhea drugs will be a tough sell to pharmaceutical companies.

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