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9 February 2009
Prevalence of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea increasing in Canada
by George Atkinson

Cases of quinolone-resistant gonorrhea have increased rapidly in Canada's most populous province, a study in the Canadian Medical Association Journal has found. Cases in Ontario have increased from 2 percent in 2001 to 28 percent in 2006. The researchers believe that infections in heterosexual men have contributed to the increased rate of resistance. Previous studies have associated quinolone-resistant gonorrhea with men having sex with men, antibiotic use and travel to Asia.

"The magnitude of the rate of resistance to quinolone in Ontario is unusually high by any threshold reported in North America," said researcher Susan Richardson. "Given Ontario's large population and its status as a major economic centre and national transit hub, its epidemiology is likely to influence epidemiological trends in other provinces of Canada."

Neisseria gonorrhoeae infections are also on the rise in many other countries. The disease has serious health ramifications and can cause infertility and blood, joint and immune complications. The researchers say that the study findings underscore the current recommendations in Canada not to use quinolones for treatment of N. gonorrhoeae infections. Ongoing testing for antibiotic resistance is necessary, although new testing methods are replacing methods that test for susceptibility. "The importance of using culture diagnostics for N. gonorrhoeae needs to be communicated to clinicians, laboratories and public health organizations," recommends the study.

The researchers stress that appropriate antibiotic use is crucial for controlling drug-resistance in community-acquired pathogens such as N. gonorrhoeae, and a sustained global approach is needed to reduce the rates of drug-resistant gonorrhea.

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Source: Canadian Medical Association Journal

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