Because gonorrhea is often confused with other ailments, it is important to make the correct diagnosis. Because coexisting chlamydia infections often accompany gonorrhea, health practitioners often use a treatment strategy that is effective against both. For a number of years the treatment regimen recommended by the CDC involved the dual therapy of a single dose of a fluoroquinolone antibiotic, such as ciprofloxacin, plus a single dose of azithromycin (or doxycycline for 7 days). Unfortunately, in recent years there has been an alarming worldwide increase in strains of gonorrhea resistant to fluoroquinolone antibiotics (Dowell et al., 2012). Consequently, the CDC now recommends that health professionals stop using fluoroquinolones and substitute a cephalosporin medication (a different class of antibiotics, such as ceftriaxone) to treat gonorrhea infections.
Recent research has identified a new mutated strain of the gonococcus bacterium, HO41, that causes an infection that cannot be treated by available antibiotics, including cephalosporin-class antibiotics (Unemo et al., 2011). This alarming discovery suggests that a once easily treatable infection may become a global public health threat if this new drug-resistant strain becomes widespread (Bolan et al., 2012).
It is quite common for sexual partners of infected individuals to have also contracted gonorrhea. Consequently, all sexual partners exposed to a person with diagnosed gonorrhea should be examined, cultured, and, if necessary, treated with a drug regimen that covers both gonococcal and chlamydia infections (Katz, 2011).