Prof Ison, from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) in London, explained how some strains of the gonorrhoeal bacteria that cause the disease are now demonstrating decreased sensitivity to the current antibiotics used to treat them. Cefixime and Ceftriaxone are the two treatments for the infection.
Gonorrhoea is a common bacterial sexually-transmitted infection and if left untreated it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.
Current treatment consists of a single dose of antibiotic given in the clinic when prescribed, by mouth for cefixime and by injection for ceftriaxone.
Choosing an effective antibiotic can be a challenge because the organism that causes gonorrhoea is very versatile and develops resistance to antibiotics very quickly.
"Penicillin was used for many years until it was no longer effective. A number of other agents have been used ever since. The current drugs of choice, ceftriaxone and cefixime, are still effective but there are signs that resistance particularly to cefixime is emerging. Soon the drug would not be of any use.
Ongoing monitoring of antimicrobial resistance is critical to ensure that first-line treatments for gonorrhoea remain effective.
If this problem isn't addressed then there is a possibility that gonorrhoea will become a very difficult infection to treat or may become incurable like AIDS.