Allegheny County health officials are on the lookout for antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea.

Ceftriaxone is currently the de jure antibiotic used to treat sexually transmitted bacterial infections. This is very effective, but it is not always the case. Gonorrhea has a history of developing resistance to antibiotics, including penicillin, which means the disease can go from easily treatable to debilitating.

Since June, the Allegheny County Health Department says its public health lab has been one of many across the country working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to monitor for gonorrhea.

Of 797 samples taken by the Allegheny County Health Department, only 79 were identified as having gonorrhea, and none were found to be resistant to ceftriaxone.

“It’s a sign of relief,” said lab director Dr. Bob Wadowski. “There was some resistance in the country, and the goal of this project is to preserve it [it]to less than 2% of strains.”

In addition, none of the samples were resistant to cefixime, an oral antibiotic that is also sometimes used to treat gonorrhea, although it is less effective.

The Central Health Information Centre, Allies for Health and Wellbeing and the District STD Clinic provide samples for monitoring.

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