A worrying study has revealed that gonorrhea is becoming immune to an antibiotic, which highlights the possibility of an unfortunate situation in the future.
- Researchers reviewed data from over 51,000 patients with gonorrhea, between 2006-2014
- Between 2006 to 2014, the resistance to cefixime lifted from 0.1% to 0.8%
- Cefixime is not the most commonly prescribed drug, falling second to ceftriaxone
- Experts advise routine check-ups, better screening, and safe sex
Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conducted a study on 51,144 gonorrhea patients, across 34 cities, between the years 2006 to 2014. Their results have showed a certain fluctuation in the resistant traits of the disease against cefixime. It’s an antibiotic sometimes prescribed to treat the sexually transmitted disease (STD).
Gonorrhea is a treatable condition that can be caught from unprotected vaginal, anal, or oral sex. The likelihood seemed more prevalent in patients between 15 to 24 years old, especially when paired with alcohol or drug abuse. It would result in painful urination, discolored genital secretion for both genders, swollen testicles for men, and vaginal bleeding for women between their periods.
The treatment is generally quick and readily available, a strong shot of antibiotics. However, when left untreated, it might result to serious health complications, such as infertility, chronic pelvic pain, or ectopic pregnancy for women, which is life threatening. This emphasizes the need for a quick diagnosing, routine check-ups, and efficient treatment.
However, researchers found that the disease is growing more resistant to cefixime, one of its treatments. This has been especially prevalent in gay or bisexual men.
In 2006, gonorrhea resistance to cefixime was 0.1%, but grew to 1.4% in 2011. Surprisingly, the rates went down in 2013 to 0.4%, but once again lifted last year, in 2014, to 0.8%. Their results could have major implications, even though cefixime is not the first-choice for treating gonorrhea.
Fortunately, most doctors recommend treatment with another antibiotic, called ceftriaxone. In 2014, around 96.6% of the patients were recommend the more beneficial treatment. Cefixime was only used as an option when ceftriaxone-based therapies were not available. However, the rising immunity of gonorrhea against the more uncommonly-used drug might have more worrying results.
According to Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy, an epidemiologist for the CDC, trends on the resistance of cefixime have generally been a precursor for the more-frequently-used option of ceftriaxone. If one drug is starting to build resistance, there is a chance that the other will follow. So, it’s becomes paramount to continually observe their progress.
Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force, recommends more screening for the disease in sexually active women below 24 years old, older women with increased risk, and sexually active gay or bisexual men.
The only ways to prevent the disease is through abstinence, sex with an uninfected partner, or consistently engaging in safe sex with the use of condoms.
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