The Extinction Protocol

February 10, 2012NORTH CAROLINAIn this morning’s NEJM, physicians from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Washington bluntly warn that gonorrhea at least threatens to become untreatable, thanks to the acquisition of antibiotic resistance: It is time to sound the alarm. During the past 3 years, the wily gonococcus has become less susceptible to our last line of antimicrobial defense, threatening our ability to cure gonorrhea and prevent severe sequelae. As I reported here last July, gonorrhea (which acquires resistance mutations much more easily than syphilis does) has been steadily becoming indifferent to entire classes of antibiotics used against it: first sulfa drugs, then penicillin, then tetracycline, then fluoroquinolones such as Cipro. The last class of drugs that worked against the disease easily, quickly and cheaply –  key attributes, if you’re running publicly funded clinics where…

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