The Los Angeles Daily News reported today on a repeated warning issued to doctors in the United States by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Preparation is required for the potential arrival of a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea that is spreading throughout Europe and Asia. The warning was published in the CDC's latest issue of Morbidity and Mortality Weekly.
As the most commonly reported sexually transmitted disease in the country, gonorrhea has become resistant to most antibiotics except cephalosporins. The overseas spread of the disease has already become cephalosporin-resistant. The fear is that this resistant form of the disease will reach our shores and that current antibiotic treatment practices will enable the development of a super bug. The article stated:
Antimicrobial drug development is needed now, particularly because the development process for new drugs can take more than a decade.
Steve Solomon MD, the CDC's director of antimicrobial resistance said, " The principle driver of antibiotic resistance is the use of antibiotics. The more antibiotics that are used, the more bacteria become resistant to them. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of the antibiotics used in the United States don't need to be used. Some studies suggest that a third to a half of all antibiotics given to people in the U.S. may be unnecessary or used inappropriately."
Along with gonorrhea, outbreaks of drug-resistant tuberculosis in third world countries have created widespread, serious health risks. Although neither form of these diseases have reached U.S. shores as yet, antibiotic-resistant urinary tract infections have. According to a report prepared by Extending the Cure, along with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation last November, these infections may cause a serious threat here at home. Director of Extending the Cure, Ramanan Laxminarayan, said, "Without proper antibiotic treatment, UTIs can turn into bloodstream infections, which are much more serious and can be life-threatening. These findings are especially disturbing because there are few new antibiotics to replace the ones that are becoming less effective. New drug development needs to target the types of drug-resistant bacteria that cause these infections."
Barbara Johnson MD, associate medical director at Mount Sinai Comprehensive Health Program in New York cautioned that people need to be aware that some treatment for gonorrhea is already failing and that, one day, gonorrhea may be incurable.