OBJECTIVE: To reassess the in vivo and in vitro efficacy of cefaclor for the treatment of uncomplicated gonococcal infection. DESIGN: Open clinical trail conducted in South Africa among consecutive male patients with symptoms and signs of uncomplicated urethritis and laboratory evidence of gonorrhoea. METHODS: Patients were treated with 3 g of cefaclor plus 1 g probenecid as a single dose. Urethral specimens were cultured for Neisseria gonorrhoeae at the initial visit and at follow up. Patients were considered cured if follow up cultures were negative. Treatment was considered to have failed in the patients infected with identical gonococcal strains at the initial and at the control visit. Those with evidence of infection at the follow up visit were administered 400 mg of ofloxacin and doxycycline 100 mg twice daily for 7 days. Minimal inhibitory concentrations (MICs) of cefaclor were determined by an agar dilution technique on the gonococcal isolates from the study subjects. The results were compared with those of isolates from three other African countries. RESULTS: Of 155 patients evaluated, 151 were cured (97%). Thirty per cent of the patients complained of adverse effects, mainly gastrointestinal. Even though MICs for the isolates from the three other African countries were significantly higher than those for the isolates from the study, none was considered resistant to cefaclor in vitro. MICs were markedly influenced by the type of test medium used. CONCLUSION: The trial demonstrated the efficacy of a single oral dose of cefaclor with probenecid for the treatment of uncomplicated gonococcal urethritis in South Africa. Its potential as an alternative therapy to third generation cephalosporins deserves to be further investigated.
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