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Local gonorrhoea study under way

Published:Thursday | March 30, 2017 | 12:00 AMCorey Robinson

The planned study of the effectiveness of antibiotics in the treatment of gonorrhoea in Jamaica has started, with researchers at the University of the West Indies, Mona campus, joining colleagues around the world in trying to address this growing concern.

"The study looks at samples across a number of clinics islandwide. Four hundred swabs were done, and out of these, 54 were positive for gonorrhoea," said Dr Alison Nicholson, head of the Department of Microbiology at the University of the West Indies.

"Now they will take those 50 samples and then test them for their sensitivity to antibiotics. This testing will not be done by the ordinary method. They are using molecular methods to test the sensitivity," added Nicholson, as she noted that the latter process promises more efficient results.

The swabs were taken in collaboration with the Ministry of Health at facilities in Kingston and St Andrew, St Catherine, St Ann, St James, and Westmoreland.




Now, Nicholson wants more to be done to raise the awareness of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) in Jamaica.

"I don't think many persons know about the gonorrhoea issue and the fact that this organism is actually leading the way in terms of causing concern," said Nicholson as she pointed out that in some countries, certain STIs are becoming resistant to antibiotic treatment, mainly because patients and doctors have been misusing the drugs.

"Not all infections require antibiotics. It should be reserved for only when you suspect bacterial infections. But some people don't even differentiate between different germs and it's only if you have a bacterial infection that you should be taking antibiotics," Nicholson had told The Sunday Gleaner in an earlier interview.

Nicholson and her team's study is in keeping with the WHO guidelines issued last year, which mandated member states to check on the level of antibiotics resistance locally.

The new WHO guidelines reinforce the need to treat these STIs with the right antibiotic, at the right dose, and the right time, to reduce their spread and improve sexual and reproductive health.

To do that, national health services need to monitor the patterns of antibiotic resistance in these infections within their countries.

"Resistance of STIs to the effect of antibiotics has increased rapidly in recent years and has reduced treatment options," said the WHO.

"Gonorrhoea has developed the strongest resistance to antibiotics. Strains of multi drug-resistant gonorrhoea that do not respond to any available antibiotics have already been detected," added the WHO.

April is STI awareness month and the US-based Centre for Disease Control and Prevention has themed it: 'Syphilis Strikes Back', in response to the rapid increase in the number of cases which reached historic lows in 2000 at 2.1 cases per 100,000.

In 2015, the CDC recorded at least 8.1 cases per 100,000 in the US.