WHO urges shift in STD treatment due to antibiotic resistance (Update)

August 30, 2016
Chlamydia trachomatis inclusion bodies (brown) in a McCoy cell culture. Credit: public domain

Growing resistance to antibiotics has complicated efforts to rein in common sexually transmitted diseases like gonorrhoea, chlamydia and syphilis, the World Health Organization warned Tuesday as it issued new treatment guidelines.

Globally, more than one million people contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) or infection (STI) every day, WHO said.

"Chlamydia, gonorrhoea and syphilis are major public health problems worldwide, affecting millions of peoples' quality of life, causing serious illness and sometimes death," Ian Askew, head of WHO's reproductive health and research division, said in a statement.

WHO estimates that each year, 131 million people are infected with chlamydia around the globe, 78 million with gonorrhoea and 5.6 million with syphilis.

More than one million people contract a sexually transmitted infection (STI) every single day, WHO medical officer Teodora Wi said.

Until recently, the three diseases, which are all caused by bacteria, had been fairly easy to treat using antibiotics, but increasingly those drugs are failing, WHO said.

"Resistance of these STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options," the UN agency said.

Resistance is caused, among other things, by doctors overprescribing antibiotics, and patients not taking the correct doses.

Injected into the buttock or thigh

Strains of multidrug resistant gonorrhoea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected, while antibiotic resistance also exists in chlamydia and syphilis, though it is less common, it said.

When left undiagnosed and untreated, the three diseases can have serious consequences, causing pelvic infamatory disease and ectopic pregnancy in women, and increasing the chances of miscarriage, stillbirth and newborn death.

They can also greatly increase the risk of being infected with HIV, and untreated gonorrhoea and chlamydia can leave both men and women infertile.

To rein in resistance, WHO on Tuesday presented new guidelines aimed at ensuring that doctors prescribe the best antibiotics, and the right doses, for treating each specific disease.

To reduce the spread of the diseases, national health services will need to "monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries," Askew said.

For gonorrhoea for instance, WHO recommends that health authorities study local resistance patterns and advise doctors to prescribe the most effective antibiotic with the least resistance.

For syphilis, meanwhile, WHO recommended a specific antibiotic—benzathine penicillin—that is injected into the buttock or thigh muscle.

It stressed that condom use was the most effective way to protect against STD infection.

Explore further: More than 75 percent of STD-negative patients receive antibiotics

Related Stories

More than 75 percent of STD-negative patients receive antibiotics

June 9, 2016
A study of emergency department (ED) patients with symptoms of gonorrhea or chlamydia found that three in four patients who were treated with antibiotics actually tested negative for these sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), ...

Two sex-spread diseases increase, syphilis down

November 17, 2011
(AP) -- Cases of some common sexually spread diseases continue to increase in the United States, but the syphilis rate dropped last year for the first time in a decade.

U.K. case of throat gonorrhea resists antibiotics

June 23, 2016
(HealthDay)—In an alarming development, British public health experts have confirmed a case of throat gonorrhea that proved untreatable with the standard antibiotic regimen.

Screen women for chlamydia, gonorrhea, experts say

September 23, 2014
(HealthDay)—All sexually active women should be screened for two of the most common sexually transmitted infections: chlamydia and gonorrhea, according to new recommendations from the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force.

Syphilis on the rise among gay, bisexual men: CDC

December 16, 2014
(HealthDay)—The number of cases of syphilis in the United States jumped 10 percent from 2012 to 2013, with gay and bisexual men accounting for 75 percent of the increase, U.S health officials reported Tuesday.

Recommended for you

Google searches can be used to track dengue in underdeveloped countries

July 20, 2017
An analytical tool that combines Google search data with government-provided clinical data can quickly and accurately track dengue fever in less-developed countries, according to new research published in PLOS Computational ...

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

0 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.