Drug-resistant gonorrhea a growing threat in the U.S.

Gonorrhea appears to be developing resistance to the two antibiotics that constitute the last available treatment option for the sexually transmitted bacteria, U.S. health officials announced Wednesday.

Gonorrhea samples taken last spring from seven patients in Honolulu showed resistance to azithromycin at dramatically higher levels than typically seen in the United States, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported at its STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta.

Five of the samples also showed increased resistance to ceftriaxone, the antibiotic given alongside azithromycin in the dual regimen recommended by the CDC.

This is the first cluster of cases to show increased resistance to both azithromycin and ceftriaxone, said Dr. Jonathan Mermin, director of CDC’s National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD, and TB Prevention.

Data published by the CDC earlier this year showed evidence of emerging azithromycin resistance in gonorrhea samples found across the nation, but those infections were still susceptible to ceftriaxone.

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