The sexually transmitted disease gonorrhoea is now among the “superbugs” resistant to common antibiotics.Leading United States health officials are to recommend wider use of a different class of drugs to avert a public health crisis.

The resistant form accounts for more than one in every four gonorrhoea cases among heterosexual men in Philadelphia and nearly that many in San Francisco, according to a survey that led to Thursday’s recommendation by the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gonorrhoea, which is believed to infect more than 700 000 people in the United States each year, can leave both men and women infertile and puts people at higher risk of getting the Aids virus.

Since the early 1990s, a class of drugs known as fluoroquinolones has provided a relatively easy cure. These antibiotics, taken as tablets, include the drug Cipro.

But a growing number of gonorrhoea cases is resistant to those drugs, and officials at the CDC for the first time are urging doctors to stop using fluoroquinolones and switch to cephalosporins, a different class of antibiotics, to treat everyone.

Those drugs – which include the generic ceftriaxone or brand name Rocephin, made by Swiss drug maker Roche Holding AG – must be given as a shot and are not as readily stocked as Cipro on most doctor’s shelves.

more at