Antibiotic resistance could increase rates of UK gonorrhoea infection

May 29, 2003

Authors of a research letter in this week's issue of THE LANCET are calling for UK gonorrhoea treatment guidelines to be revised in light of new evidence showing a steep increase in antibiotic resistance.

After chlamydia, gonorrhoea is the most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK. The symptoms include pain when passing urine and discharge; if left untreated in women it can cause chronic pelvic pain and ectopic pregnancy. The antibiotic ciprofloxacin is currently the first-line treatment for gonorrhoea.

Kevin Fenton from the Health Protection Agency, London, UK, and colleagues report how ciprofloxacin resistance increased significantly from 3% to almost 10% between 2001 and 2002 after a slight increase from 2% to 3% between 2000 and 2001. Antibiotic resistance data for gonococcal infection in England and Wales is collected through GRASP (the Gonococcal Resistance to Antimicrobials Surveillance Programme) which is in its third year of reporting.

Kevin Fenton comments: "UK national guidelines recommend three first-line options for the treatment of gonorrhoea: ciprofloxacin, ofloxacin, and ampicillin/probenecid. To prevent the spread of gonorrhoea, the chosen treatment should clear up at least 95% of infections, and ciprofloxacin no longer meets this criterion. This is why we are recommending a review of national and local treatment guidelines and the use of antibiotics such as cephalosporins or spectinomycin, so that infections are treated quickly and effectively, and not spread to other sexual partners'."
-end-
Contact: Emily Collins, Senior Press Officer, Health Protection Agency - Colindale, 61 Colindale Avenue, London NW9 5DF, UK;
T) 44-208-358-3002;
F) 44-208-358-3011;
E) emily.collins@hpa.org.uk

Lancet

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