Is gonorrhea becoming untreatable?

Future Microbiol. 2014;9(2):189-201. doi: 10.2217/fmb.13.155.


An estimated 498 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections occur worldwide annually. Of these, 106 million are gonococcal infections, rendering gonorrhea the second most prevalent bacterial sexually transmitted infection after chlamydia. A decline in susceptibility to extended-spectrum cephalosporins, as well as treatment failures, have been identified worldwide. This, together with the associated epidemiological and socioeconomic burden, is of increasing concern. Currently, the effectiveness of antibiotic resistance control measures is limited. Barriers include the lack of therapeutic options, the difficulties of reducing high-risk sexual behavior and Neisseria gonorrhoeae's propensity to rapidly acquire resistance determinants. While the disease remains treatable for the moment, we need to anticipate and be prepared for the arrival and spread of untreatable gonorrhea by using a multifaceted approach and search for other, perhaps novel control strategies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Anti-Bacterial Agents / therapeutic use
  • Cephalosporin Resistance / genetics*
  • Cephalosporins / therapeutic use*
  • Gonorrhea / diagnosis
  • Gonorrhea / drug therapy*
  • Gonorrhea / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / drug effects
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / genetics
  • Neisseria gonorrhoeae / pathogenicity*
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • Treatment Failure


  • Anti-Bacterial Agents
  • Cephalosporins