Awareness campaign shows signs of delaying onset of drug-resistant gonorrhea in UK

In 2012, there were over 25,000 cases of gonorrhoea in the UK making it the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection after chlamydia. Control of gonorrhoea is dependent on successful antibiotic treatment, as the bacterium that causes the infection, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has become increasingly resistance to every antibiotic used to treat it over the last 60 years. Today, at the Society for General Microbiology's Annual Conference in Liverpool, Professor Cathy Ison explains the challenges facing the treatment of the disease, which threatens to become resistant to all antibiotics.

In 2012, Professor Ison led on the launch of the Health Protection Agency's first Gonorrhoea Resistance Action Plan for England and Wales, as part of the Gonococcal Resistance to Antimicrobials Surveillance Programme (GRASP) that provides on levels of . GRASP, which has provide surveillance data in England and Wales since 2000, has been used to change clinical practice in the UK.

Today, she will show that campaigns in the UK to raise awareness of drug among healthcare professionals, policy-makers and at risk groups have shown some success in delaying the onset of treatment failure to the oral antibiotic cefixime. When evidence of antibiotic-resistance to cefixime was identified it was replaced as treatment of choice by ceftriaxone, an injectable antibiotic of the same class. This was done to prevent the widespread emergence of cefixime-resistance gonorrhoea. Cefixime and ceftriaxone are the last group of antibiotics known to be fully effective against gonorrhoea.

Professor Ison said: "While we have shown that a proactive approach to changing therapy has shown some success, we should remember that this infection has repeatedly become resistant to successive antibiotics over decades, and that it is likely that this is only a temporary reprieve. This will give the internationally community time to investigate new drugs and alternative strategies for treating gonorrhoea and maintain it as a treatable infection."

However, Professor Ison stresses that we should remain vigilant: "We can already see in data from England and Wales, as well as other some countries, that there is the beginning of drifts towards resistance to the injectable drug, ceftriaxone, which is currently used as the drug of choice for gonorrhoea. Public health control of gonorrhoea must include prompt diagnosis, delivery of effective treatment and detection of treatment failures, combined with strong prevention messages."

To combat the continuing high rates of STI transmission in England, and the growing risk of treatment failure it is essential that individuals:

  • Always use a condom when having sex with new and casual partners
  • Reduce the number of sexual partners and avoid overlapping sexual relationships
  • Get a regular STI check-up if having unprotected sex with new or casual partners.

More information: The Society for General Microbiology's Annual Conference 2014 takes place 14-17 April Arena and Convention Centre, Liverpool, UK.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Possible 'superbug' status for sexually-transmitted infection

Mar 29, 2010

The rise of multidrug resistance in gonorrhoea-causing bacteria is threatening to make this sexually-transmitted infection extremely difficult to treat. Professor Catherine Ison, speaking at the Society for General Microbiology's ...

STIs and risky sex still an issue

Nov 26, 2013

New results from the third National Survey of Sexual Attitudes and Lifestyles (Natsal), published in The Lancet, provide a picture of sexually transmitted infection (STI) prevalence and testing, uptake of sexual health interv ...

Recommended for you

Restrictions lifted at British bird flu farm

9 hours ago

Britain on Sunday lifted all restrictions at a duck farm in northern England after last month's outbreak of H5N8 bird flu, the same strain seen in recent cases across Europe.

Recorded Ebola deaths top 7,000

Dec 20, 2014

The worst Ebola outbreak on record has now killed more than 7,000 people, with many of the latest deaths reported in Sierra Leone, the World Health Organization said as United Nations Secretary-General Ban ...

Liberia holds Senate vote amid Ebola fears (Update)

Dec 20, 2014

Health workers manned polling stations across Liberia on Saturday as voters cast their ballots in a twice-delayed Senate election that has been criticized for its potential to spread the deadly Ebola disease.

Evidence-based recs issued for systemic care in psoriasis

Dec 19, 2014

(HealthDay)—For appropriately selected patients with psoriasis, combining biologics with other systemic treatments, including phototherapy, oral medications, or other biologic, may result in greater efficacy ...

User comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.