31 January 2008

Changing face of gonorrhoea

New drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea are popping up from Massachusetts to Hawaii, raising the possibility that doctors will have to radically change their approach.

Gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases, perhaps best known for its symptoms in men of burning and discharge from the penis. While its symptoms may be less noticeable in women, gonorrhoea can hit them harder by causing pelvic inflammatory disease. In both sexes, untreated gonorrhoea can spread infection to the blood and joints, in addition to making HIV easier to transmit.

Cipro-resistant gonorrhoea

Patients can turn to injections
The CDC is warning the strains have appeared in New York City, Washington state, Massachusetts, Michigan and Indiana. Officials are advising doctors in Hawaii, California, Massachusetts and parts of Michigan to stop or monitor their use of Cipro and its sister drugs, known as fluoroquinolones.

The problem with injections
Also, it takes more time for nurses to give injections than simply hand out pills, he says: In a busy clinic, it would limit the number of patients who could be seen in a day.

Not the end of the world
The good news is the injection drug ceftriaxone will still quickly and effectively kill the disease in patients, Martin says. It's not like the end of the world in terms of not having anything to treat gonorrhoea.

Read more:
Past sexual indiscretions – a health threat?
Spermicide won’t prevent gonorrhea, chlamydia
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