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article imageWHO: Resistant strains of gonorrhea have spread around the world

By Karen Graham     Sep 4, 2016 in Health
The World Health Organization (WHO) has released new guidelines for the treatment of gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease that has become resistant to most antibiotics.
For the first time in over a decade, the UN health agency is changing its policy in the treatment of gonorrhea as antibiotic-resistant strains continue to spread worldwide.
According to Science Magazine, the WHO is no longer recommending the use of the entire class of quinolones as they have become ineffective in treating the disease. Instead, the WHO is recommending doctors prescribe another class of drugs called cephalosporins.
One antibiotic in the cephalosporin class is called ceftriaxone. But doctors in 46 countries have already reported strains of gonorrhea that are less susceptible to ceftriaxone than previously thought. Health officials worldwide are concerned over the overuse of antibiotics in treating other infections, including viruses.
High-income countries like the U.S., Canada, and the U.K. have already changed protocols for the treatment of gonorrhea, based on their own surveillance data. But WHO's guidelines set a worldwide standard that is particularly important for low-income countries that may not have good surveillance data.
Teodora Wi from WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research in Geneva, Switzerland, says, "We really wanted countries to remove quinolones as the treatment of choice. Imagine if African countries invested so much money just to buy quinolones and the bacteria are already resistant.”
In September 2015, Digital Journal writer, Tim Sandle reported on the sharp rise in an azithromycin-resistant strain of Neisseria gonorrhea in the UK. In June 2016, it was reported in Digital Journal that the azithromycin-resistant strain of N. gonorrhea had spread across the UK.
Dr. Gwenda Hughes, the head of the sexually transmitted infections unit at Public Health England, said, "People should be very concerned because if this super strain of gonorrhea becomes resistant to ceftriaxone, too, then there are no antibiotics that will work." It appears that the world has reached that tipping point in the use of ceftriaxone, and others in its class.
The UK is not the only high-income country facing problems with drug-resistant gonorrhea. The U.S. has been using the same two antibiotics, azithromycin, and ceftriaxone, and we are experiencing the same drug-resistance, according to NPR.
More about Gonorrhea, Who, antibioticresistant, Worldwide, New guidelines
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