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This award-winning blog supplements the articles in Hospital Infection Control & Prevention.

Post-antibiotic era? A single drug remains against STD gonorrhea

While drug resistant health care associated infections (HAIs) have been a source of increasing alarm in recent years, the problem of declining antibiotic efficacy is also occurring in infections that could potentially have broad implications for public health: sexually transmitted diseases (STDs).

In that regard, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is reporting that the bacteria that cause gonorrhea have developed resistance to virtually all commonly used antibiotics.

“We’re trying to sound the alarm to prevent untreatable gonorrhea from becoming a reality,” Gail Bolan, director of the CDC Division of STD Prevention, said in press reports.

Since 2007, the CDC had recommended treatment with one class of antibiotics known as cephalosporins, because ever-adaptable gonorrhea had outsmarted all other treatments used against it. That class of drugs includes an oral antibiotic -- cefixime -- and an injectable antibiotic, ceftriaxone. The CDC’s new recommendation means that only the injectable drug is now recommended for regular use, so patients need to get a shot rather than taking pills.