As drug-resistant gonorrhea rapidly spreads throughout the world, one team of experts may have a technique to overcome it, according to a new study.
Gonorrhea is becoming more powerful, meaning the drugs typically used to cure are no more reliably effective. Should gonorrhea’s antibiotic resistance persist to increase, the outcomes could be unsatisfactory, considering that the std can cause long-term challenges like infertility if left untreated.
In July, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported that around the world, about 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea every year which 97% of 77 countries surveyed from 2009 to 2014 reported the existence of drug-resistant gonorrhea strains. Sixty-six percent of the countries reported the introduction of resistance to final resort medications for the infection.
Today if a person gets a resistant strain of gonorrhea, it doesn’t indicate that they won’t ever clear the infection.
“At the moment, all cases of gonorrhea are still treatable using some mixture of available antibiotics,”
says Dr. Xavier Didelot, senior lecturer in the department of infectious disease and epidemiology at Imperial College London.
“But at the current rate at which resistance is developing, we could find ourselves facing a situation where no antibiotic works, which would mean a return to the pre-antibiotic era.”
To avoid that from taking place, researchers are working to find out new treatment approaches for gonorrhea. In a new research published Tuesday in the journal PLOS Medicine, Didelot and his colleagues report that relying more on an old drug for the illness may stop it from becoming more resistant to antibiotics.
Cefixime can be an antibiotic that was previously used to take care of gonorrhea, but doctors largely stopped utilizing it thanks to high degrees of level of resistance and its inability to clear infections.
However, Didelot and his fellow researchers developed mathematical models to observe cefixime’s resistance trends between 2008 and 2015 and determine whether it might still be utilized for some people without increasing resistance.
In the study, they forecast that cefixime could be re-introduced successfully given that it is used to treat a quarter of infections.
“We are now running out of options to treat gonorrhea cases,”
“So rather than waiting for the few remaining options to fail, we need to begin using antibiotics in a manner that does not lead to resistance developing.”
To handle gonorrhea infections, health experts in America currently recommend a combined therapy of the antibiotics ceftriaxone (an injection) azithromycin (taken orally).
Dr. Bob Kirkcaldy, an epidemiologist at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Division of STD Prevention, says that experts have pointed out that gonorrhea strains have become less responsive to both antibiotics.
But he adds that if a person’s gonorrhea strain is resistant to 1 drug, in most cases it responds to the other. Kirkcaldy says it remains “unusual” for a gonorrhea strain in the U.S. to not respond in any way to antibiotics.
“Currently recommended therapy is still highly effective,” says Kirkcaldy. “But given the history and what we’ve seen, that may not always be the case.”
The fact that most gonorrhea infections react to treatment in the U.S. doesn’t imply the infection’s growing resistance is not increasing serious concerns.
In 2016, they had 470,000 new cases of gonorrhea among Us citizens, though that is probably an underestimate – the CDC estimates that about less than half of gonorrhea infections in the U.S. discovered and reported the agency.
Each year, the CDC estimates that 246,000 new gonorrhea infections are resistant to at least one antibiotic.
Kirkcaldy says getting tested for gonorrhea can be an important way to lessen the problem since current drugs still work and can lessen a number of people who get the infection and pass on it.
A lot of people with gonorrhea won’t experience symptoms, which implies getting examined is crucial for knowing if you have it.
“It’s important for people to get screened and treated,”
“We know this bug can mutate rapidly.”
The CDC recommends sexually active women under age group of 25, or women with risk factors like a new sex partner, or multiple sex companions, should get annual gonorrhea tests and be tested for HIV if they’ve never been tested.
For men who’ve sex with men, the CDC suggests yearly tests for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV. If men have other risk factors, including multiple sex companions, the CDC suggests testing every 3 to 6 months.
“There are things we can do to slow [resistance] down and push it into the future while we try to develop more weapons,”