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Drug Resistance Forces CDC to Change Gonorrhea Treatment Options


( - April 23, 2007) The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is recommending immediate changes to the treatment of gonorrhea due to the sexually transmitted disease becoming resistant to certain antibiotics. The CDC is recommending that fluoroquinolones (ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and levofloxacin) no longer be used in gonnorrhea treatments within America.

Gonorrhea is one of the most frequent STDs in the United States and recommending a stop in the use of fluoroquinolones limits treatment options even more.

The recommendation to not use fluoroquinolones came about because of new data released this month in CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) showing that fluoroquinolone-resistant gonorrhea is now widespread in the United States among heterosexuals and men who have sex with men (MSM).

The data also displayed the proportion of drug-resistant cases among heterosexuals rising above the recognized threshold of five percent for changing treatment recommendations.

Recommended options for now treating gonorrhea are limited to a group of antibiotics known as cephalosporins. Public health officials emphasize that the lack of treatment options is prompting the immediate need for accelerated research into new drugs, as well as increased effortsfor monitoring emerging drug resistance, especially to cephalosporins.

“There is also an urgent need for new, effective medicines to treat gonorrhea. We are running out of options to treat this serious disease,” said Dr. Kevin Fenton, Director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention. “Increased vigilance in monitoring for resistance to all available drugs is essential.”

While significant resistance to cephalosporins has not yet been seen, the CDC is working with state and local health departments to monitor emerging cephalosporin resistance. In addition, the CDC is working with the World Health Organization to strengthen international efforts to monitor for the emergence of cephalosporin resistance while also working with government and industry partners to identify and evaluate promising new drug regimens.

The CDC emphasizes that these additional measures are critical for the control of gonorrhea.

Within the class of cephalosporins, the CDC now recommends ceftriaxone (available as an injection) as the preferred treatment for all types of gonorrhea infection (genital, anal, and throat).

“New treatment recommendations are critical if we are to continue to see progress in controlling gonorrhea,” says Dr. John Douglas, director of the Division of STD Prevention. “We cannot afford to lose ground against a disease that continues to affect roughly 700,000 Americans each year.”

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States after chlamydia.

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