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Gonococcal resistance to azithromycin

Study reveals resistance in England and Wales to an antibiotic commonly used in the treatment of gonorrhoea

According to a recent study published in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy Advance Access, a high level of resistance has emerged to azithromycin in gonorrhoea in England and Wales. Azithromycin is not the first-line therapy for people with gonorrhoea, but is a commonly used antibiotic in treating the disease due to its proven activity against several agents. 

The study, funded by the Department of Health, analysed data from the Gonococcal Resistance to Antimicrobials Surveillance Programme (GRASP) from 2001-2007 to examine emerging trends in azithromycin susceptibility. The results showed a trend towards a higher minimum inhibitory concentration (MIC) over time. These findings could mean an increased risk of treatment failure and a threat to the development of future therapeutic regimens containing this agent. 

According to the study lead, Professor Stephanie Chisholm, Healthcare Scientist at the Health Protection Agency, there is no evidence to show these strains will cause any different symptoms to the strains that are currently circulating. "Despite this resistance, appropriate antibiotic treatment should cure all uncomplicated gonococcal infections. It is vital that those who are infected seek treatment, because if left untreated complications can occur such as pelvic inflammatory disease, chronic pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy or infertility," Profession Chisholm said.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common STI in the UK.

9th June 2009

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