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Media Summary

For immediate release: July 7, 2011
Media Contact: National Center for HIV/AIDS, Viral Hepatitis, STD and TB Prevention - News Media Line, 404.639.8895,

Cephalosporin Susceptibility Among Neisseria gonorrhoeae Isolates

Data suggest declining susceptibility to cephalosporins -- the only remaining class of antibiotics available to treat gonorrhea. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility in women and increase a person’s risk for acquiring HIV. Over time, the bacteria have developed resistance to several antibiotics. Currently, CDC recommends a dual therapy of cephalosporins with either azithromycin or doxycycline. The emergence of resistance to cephalosporins would substantially limit treatment options. For this article, researchers analyzed 10 years’ worth of gonorrhea samples, or isolates, from male patients in 30 U.S. cities collected through CDC’s Gonococcal Isolate Surveillance Project. The analysis showed an increase in the proportion of isolates with elevated minimum inhibitory concentrations (MICs), the lowest concentration of antibiotics needed to stop the bacteria’s growth. Increases in MICs suggest declining antibiotic susceptibility. From 2000-2010, the percentage of isolates exhibiting elevated MICs rose from 0.2%-1.4% of isolates for cefixime (an oral cephalosporin) and from 0.1%-0.3% for ceftriaxone (an injectable cephalosporin). No treatment failures have been observed in the U.S. Authors call on public and private partners to prioritize treatment development and increase gonorrhea surveillance capacity so that emerging patterns of resistance can be recognized as they occur.

For the full MMWR, see: "Cephalosporin Susceptibility Among Neisseria gonorrhoeae Isolates – United States, 2000-2010" and for additional information on this topic, see: "Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea".