Successful antimicrobial therapy is fundamental to the public health control of gonorrhea, in the absence of a protective immune response. Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the causative agent, has presented a constant challenge for the provision of such therapy as it has demonstrated the ability to become resistant to successive highly active agents chosen for first-line treatment. Acquisition of plasmids from other bacteria and long-term use of a single agent has selected both single step high-level and low-level resistance due to multiple mutations. While therapeutic failure of the current recommended agents cefixime and ceftriaxone begins to emerge, choice of alternative therapies is limited. Guidelines for therapy will be dependent on surveillance programs but individual patient management will require a viable organism to detect emerging resistance. Advances in molecular detection, while advantageous for the diagnosis of gonorrhea, fail to provide a viable organism, posing even greater challenges for the definition of treatment failure, and appropriate end points for test of cure. Innovative and collaborative approaches will be essential to maintain gonorrhea as a treatable infection.
- third-generation cephalosporins