Gonorrhea Superbug Discovered

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scientistsIt was announced early Monday morning that scientists have found a new strain of gonorrhea, called HO41 that cannot be treated by any recommended antibiotics.  Sources say this leaves doctors with little to no other option than to try medicines that have been so far untested to fight the disease.

The Huffington Post reports that the H041 strain, first discovered in Japan, is resistant to the class of antboiotics, called cephalosporins, which is, until relatively recently, used to treat the STD.

Gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease that if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility in woman, and can increase a person’s risk for HIV.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), it is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseased in the world and is most prevalent in south and southeast Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.  The CDC goes on to report that the number of cases in the United States alone have been estimated at around 700,000 a year.

Experts say that the best way to reduce the risk of even greater resistance developing is to treat gonorrhea with combinations of two or more types of antibiotics at the same time.  This technique, used in the treatment of other diseases like tuberculosis, attempts to make it more difficult for the bacteria to resist the drugs.

Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria happened to discover the strain with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto.

He is quoted in Reuters saying that due to the degree of resistance acquired by H041, this suggests that the new strain of gonorrhea could spread around the world within decades.

In hindsight, British scientists did say last year that there was a real risk of gonorrhea becoming a superbug after increasing reports of the H041 drug resistance erupted in Hong Kong, China, Australia, and other parts of Asia.  The term superbug refers to a bacterium that has mutated and become resistant to antibiotics.

Photo Courtesy of US Army Africa via Flickr

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