This session of Grand Rounds explored the development of antibiotic resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoeae as a growing public health concern because the United States gonorrhea control strategy relies on effective antibiotic therapy. Since antibiotics were first used for treatment of gonorrhea, N. gonorrhoeaehas progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it: sulfonilamides, penicillin, tetracycline, and ciprofloxacin. Currently, CDC STD treatment guidelines recommend dual therapy with a cephalosporin antibiotic (ceftriaxone is preferred) and either azithromycin or doxycycline to treat all uncomplicated gonococcal infections among adults and adolescents in the United States.
Given the ability of N. gonorrhoeae to develop antibiotic resistance, it is critical to continuously monitor gonococcal antibiotic resistance and encourage research and development of new treatment regimens for gonorrhea.
A major challenge to monitoring emerging antimicrobial resistance of N. gonorrhoeae is the substantial decline in capability of laboratories to perform essential gonorrhea culture techniques required for antibiotic susceptibility testing. This decline results from an increased use of newer non-culture-based laboratory technology, such as a diagnostic test called the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). Currently, there is no reliable technology that allows for antibiotic susceptibility testing from non-culture specimens. Increased laboratory culture capacity is needed.