Gonorrhea, once considered eminently curable, is “dangerously close” to becoming untreatable according to the CDC. Untreatable gonorrhea has cropped up in both Europe and Asia, and federal health officials fear that the U.S. may be next. Gonorrhea has existed for centuries and over the years has been treated with drugs such as penicillin, tetracycline, doxycycline and ampicillin. Yet, most drugs have ceased to cure the disease, including the aforementioned medicines, as well as almost every other new drug implemented. One reason that gonorrhea evades treatment is that the bacterium responsible for causing gonorrhea can mutate rapidly in order to defend itself. Gonorrhea’s growing resistance to treatment has been furthered by the over-prescription of antibiotics.
At present there are only two – or possibly one only — effective treatments for gonorrhea. Evidence recently emerged that gonorrhea has developed a resistance to cefixime, leaving ceftriaxone as the only known, effective treatment. Gail Bolan, head of the CDC’s STD prevention division, stated that it is only a matter of time before ceftriaxone becomes ineffective as well. The CDC declared that doctors should stop the use of cefixime as a first-line regimen for treatment of gonorrhea, and believes a “critical step” is necessary to preserve the efficacy of ceftriaxone. The CDC recommends that doctors administer ceftriaxone (delivered through an intra-muscular shot) with either azithromycin or doxycycline. If cefixime is used as an alternative agent, the doctor must monitor the patient to ensure that he or she is cured.