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Future Microbiol. 2012 Dec;7(12):1401-22. doi: 10.2217/fmb.12.117.

Emergence of multidrug-resistant, extensively drug-resistant and untreatable gonorrhea.

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WHO Collaborating Centre for Gonorrhoea & Other STIs, National Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, Örebro University Hospital, SE-701 85 Örebro, Sweden.


The new superbug Neisseria gonorrhoeae has retained resistance to antimicrobials previously recommended for first-line treatment and has now demonstrated its capacity to develop resistance to the extended-spectrum cephalosporin, ceftriaxone, the last remaining option for first-line empiric treatment of gonorrhea. An era of untreatable gonorrhea may be approaching, which represents an exceedingly serious public health problem. Herein, we review the evolution, origin and spread of antimicrobial resistance and resistance determinants (with a focus on extended-spectrum cephalosporins) in N. gonorrhoeae, detail the current situation regarding verified treatment failures with extended-spectrum cephalosporins and future treatment options, and highlight essential actions to meet the large public health challenge that arises with the possible emergence of untreatable gonorrhea. Essential actions include: implementing action/response plans globally and nationally; enhancing surveillance of gonococcal antimicrobial resistance, treatment failures and antimicrobial use/misuse; and improving prevention, early diagnosis and treatment of gonorrhea. Novel treatment strategies, antimicrobials (or other compounds) and, ideally, a vaccine must be developed.

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