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CDC Reports Gonorrhea is Gaining Resistance to One Antibiotic Treatment

Update Date: Nov 05, 2015 10:41 AM EST

Sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhea, could be getting harder to treat.

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), antibiotic treatment, cefixime, which is used to treat gonorrhea, does not appear to be as effective as before. The good news is that cefixime is typically not a doctor's first treatment choice for gonorrhea since there are other treatments that are more effective. The 2012 CDC guidelines recommend the use of cefixime if the first option, ceftriazone-based combination therapy, is not available.

For this study, the experts analyzed gonorrhea samples taken from 51,144 male patients between 2006 and 2014. The samples were collected at public clinics. The experts noted that about 25 percent of the samples were taken from men who had sex with other men.

The researchers found that from 2006 to 2011, resistance to cefixime increased from 0.1 percent to 1.4 percent. The rate then declined to 0.4 percent in 2013 before increasing again to 0.8 percent in 2014. The team also found that the number of patients who were treated with combination therapy increased from nine percent in 2006 to 97 percent in 2014.

Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy, an epidemiologist at the CDC, stated that it is important to continue to monitor and track antibiotic-resistance in gonorrhea cases.

"It is essential to continue monitoring antimicrobial susceptibility and track patterns of resistance among the antibiotics currently used to treat gonorrhea," he said reported by HealthDay via "Recent increases in cefixime resistance show our work is far from over. Trends of cefixime susceptibility have historically been a precursor to trends in ceftriaxone. So it's important to continue monitoring cefixime to be able to anticipate what might happen with other drugs in the future."

Gonorrhea, which is most common in the age group of 15 to 24, can be transmitted via unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Symptoms of an infection in men include painful urination, swollen testicles and discolored discharge. For women, symptoms include increased discharge and bleeding in between menstrual cycles. Symptoms of gonorrhea in the rectal regions include soreness, itchiness, bleeding, discharge and painful bowel movements. Symptoms do not always show up.

Untreated gonorrhea can lead to dangerous health conditions, such as infertility.

The study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

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