THURSDAY, April 12 (HealthDay News) -- Newer antibiotics called cephalosporins should become the sole drug treatment for the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea.
The reason: The bacterial infection is becoming increasingly resistant to treatment with the standard family of antibiotics called fluoroquinolones that includes Cipro, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Thursday.
Since the early 1990s, fluoroquinolones have been the standard treatment for gonorrhea.
An article published in Friday's edition of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report says that preliminary 2006 data show that fluoroquinolone-resistant gonorrhea is now widespread among both heterosexual and gay men in the United States.
A survey of 26 cities found that fluoroquinolone-resistant disease accounted for 6.7 percent of gonorrhea cases among heterosexual men, compared with about 0.6 percent of cases in 2001. Among gay men, drug-resistant strains accounted for 38 percent of gonorrhea cases in the first half of 2006.
The recognized threshold for changing treatment recommendations is when 5 percent of cases are drug-resistant, the CDC said.
Along with switching to cephalosporins to treat gonorrhea, the CDC recommends increased monitoring for cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea and accelerated research into new treatments for the disease.
"Gonorrhea has now joined the list of other superbugs for which treatment options have become dangerously few. To make a bad problem even worse, we're also seeing a decline in the development of new antibiotics to treat these infections," Dr. Henry Masur, president of the Infectious Disease Society of America, told the Associated Press.
According to the U.S. National Institutes of Health, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported bacterial sexually transmitted infection in the United States, following chlamydia. In 2004, there were 330,132 gonorrhea cases reported to the CDC. The highest rates of gonorrhea are found in African-Americans, 15 to 24 years of age, and women, the NIH said.
Gonorrhea can spread into the uterus and fallopian tubes, resulting in pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID affects more than 1 million American women every year and can cause tubal (ectopic) pregnancy and infertility in as many as 10 percent of infected women. Some researchers also think gonorrhea adds to the risk of HIV infection, according to the NIH.
The U.S. National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases has more about gonorrhea.
SOURCE: U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, news release, April 12, 2007