Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease (STD) but it can lead to health complications such as chronic pelvic pain, infertility and ectopic pregnancy if it is left untreated.
In the United States, more than 800,000 gonorrhea infections occur per year but since many of these infections do not show symptoms, fewer than half are diagnosed.
The cases of gonorrhea, along with other STD's, are also on the rise but the availability of treatments are shrinking as experts found evidence that cases of drug resistant gonorrhea infection are increasing.
Data from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that antibiotic-resistant cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. have more than quadrupled.
The agency said that the findings should set off an alarm that the future of currently available treatment options for the disease could be in jeopardy.
Jonathan Mermin, from the CDC, noted that the bacteria tend to find a means to outlast antibiotics that are used for its treatment.
"We are running just one step ahead in order to preserve the remaining treatment option for as long as possible," Mermin said.
Although the multidrug therapy that the CDC currently recommends for gonorrhea is still effective and there has not yet been a known case in the U.S. were treating the condition completely failed, researchers found that the number of gonorrhea cases in the U.S. with strains that are less susceptible to the key antibiotic azithromycin rose from 0.6 percent in 2013 to 2.5 percent in 2014.
According to CDC, the drug could be next to tetracycline, fluoroquinolones and penicillin in the line of antibiotics that gonorrhea has developed resistance to.
Patients are at times prescribed to receive azithromycin in combination with ceftriaxone but experts from the CDC said that it is not clear how long this combination treatment will work if rise in resistance persists.
The rise of drug resistant gonorrhoea is also observed in other parts of the world. The United Kingdom, for instance, has also reported an increase in cases of super-gonorrhoea.
"It is unclear whether these increases mark the beginning of trends, but emergence of cephalosporin and azithromycin resistance would complicate gonorrhea treatment substantially," wrote Olusegun Soge, from CDC's National Notifiable Diseases Surveillance System (NNDSS), and colleagues in the report published in the CDC journal Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report on July 15.
"Continued surveillance, appropriate treatment, development of new antibiotics, and prevention of transmission remain the best strategies to reduce gonorrhea incidence and morbidity."
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