Drug-resistant gonorrhea gains foothold in Massachusetts
March 13 2004 1:00 AM ET
Massachusetts health experts report that a drug-resistant form of gonorrhea has taken hold in the state and now accounts for one of every seven new gonorrhea cases diagnosed, The Boston Globe reports. The drug-resistant strain of the disease, first reported in Hawaii and then on the West Coast about four years ago, was detected in Massachusetts in 2002. Neighboring Maine reported its first case in January of this year.
Standard treatment of gonorrhea involves one of two classes of antibiotics--fluoroquinolones, like ciprofloxacin or ofloxacin, and cephalosporins, including cefixime and ceftriaxone. But the drug-resistant strain originating is resistant to fluoroquinolones. About 80% of gonorrhea infections in Asia are resistant to the antibiotic class; in Hawaii, about 20% are resistant. Drug-resistant gonorrhea strains have also been detected throughout California, and in Seattle, Chicago, Dallas, Las Vegas, and Philadelphia.
Health experts in Massachusetts fear the drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea will spread exponentially as those diagnosed with the disease are first prescribed drugs that don't cure the infection and then, thinking they are cured, resume having unprotected sex. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention officials also worry that the drug-resistant strain of the disease will lead to higher HIV transmission levels because the open sores associated with the disease would serve as portals for HIV to easily enter or leave the body.