Antibiotic resistant strains of the sexually transmitted infection (STI) are becoming much harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat, the World Health Organisation warns. Yet, in more than 50 countries, the resistance to cerixime and more uncommonly to ceftriaxone has been reported.
In some countries, it has become "untreatable by all known antibiotics".
"To date, three extensively drug-resistant gonococcal strains with high-level resistance to ceftriaxone ('superbugs') have also been reported - in France, Japan, and Spain", Wi and colleagues wrote in their report. One of the patients has been lost to follow-up, she added.
Explore the use of combinations of antibiotics in fixed doses, which will help reduce costs and hopefully lead to more people taking the drugs as prescribed.
But resistance to cefixime has been rising and in the USA the CDC no longer recommends it.
Gonorrhoea can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, but it is the latter that is most concerning health officials. This increases antibiotic resistance against gonorrhoea as well as other bacterial diseases.
A cluster of seven cases reported in Hawaii a year ago showed higher than ever levels of resistance to azithromycin than had previously been seen in the USA, alarming health officials. For commercial pharmaceutical companies, the development of new antibiotics seems less attractive than chronic diseases, because it takes only a short period for the treatment.
"To address the pressing need for new treatments for gonorrhoea, we urgently need to seize the opportunities we have with existing drugs and candidates in the pipeline", said Dr Manica Balasegaram, from the WHO Global Antibiotic Research Development Partnership. And now we have untreatable strains of gonorrhea!
This suggests that resistance may be occurring in other countries that have less established disease surveillance systems, Wi said.
As ever, contraceptives are the best way to protect yourself against getting an STD.
Education campaigns about safer sex.
However, one in ten infected mens and half of infected women won't experience any symptoms.
Tracing and treating sexual partners. Ultimately, vaccines will be needed to stop the sexually transmitted disease, the World Health Organization believes. GARDP's primary mission is to develop new antibiotics and most importantly, stress their appropriate use so they can maintain their effectiveness for as long as possible.
World Health Organization experts said it was "only a matter of time" before antibiotics for gonorrhea would become useless. When the meningitis B vaccine was deployed in New Zealand in 2004 and 2005, observers noted that cases of gonorrhea appear to fall at the same time.
The prevention of gonorrhoea is equally, if not more, important.