SAN DIEGO: New Drug-Resistant Strain Of Gonorrhea Found
According the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "[t]wo samples of gonorrhea bacteria more resistant to traditional drug treatment than any ever found in the United States were isolated from two San Diego men last year." The San Diego Union-Tribune reports that the two cases were detected by a CDC surveillance program that analyzes test results from a random selection of 20 afflicted persons in San Diego each month. It is reported that the two men did not share a sexual partner, although both engaged in risky sexual behavior (Clark, 5/29). Reuters/Time Magazine Online reports that traditional gonorrhea therapy includes fluoroquinolone antibiotics, such as ofloxacin or ciprofloxacin. Both men's infections, however, showed unusual resistance to these drugs, with one having to undergo subsequent treatment with ceftriaxone before his symptoms resolved. Although drug-resistant gonorrhea bacteria has been a persistent problem in certain parts of Asia for almost 20 years, it has never surfaced in the United States. The CDC describes the cases in the current issue of its Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (5/29). Click here to download a pdf version of the issue. Dr. Michelle Weinberg, a CDC epidemiologist who is studying the cases, said, "We only identified two cases and ... we're not seeing more instances at our other sites. It heightens our concerns, but we're not alarmed." At the 26 sites at which the CDC monitors gonorrhea cases, "it has identified only 16 drug-resistant cases of gonorrhea out of about 45,000" (Bynum, AP/Sacramento Bee, 5/29).
A Plan Of Attack
Weinberg said the CDC is currently testing all cases of the disease in San Diego "to determine how widespread the problem of drug resistance might be." Officials also have warned all doctors nationwide with especially large caseloads of gonorrhea to be on the lookout for patients who are not easily cured, as they may carry the new strain. Weinberg said there is no need to abandon the current treatment regimen at the moment, "but if these resistant strains become more common, we may have to eliminate fluoroquinolones for treating gonorrhea. ... Right now, we have another class of antibiotics that we can use against gonorrhea, but we need to monitor this and be aware so it doesn't become a bigger problem" (Union-Tribune, 5/29).