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Gonorrhea’s Progressive Resistance
Gonorrhea has progressively developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it (cephalosporin antibiotics).
The emergence of cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea will significantly complicate the ability to treat the bacteria successfully, since there are few antibiotic options left which are highly effective.
Scientists believe overuse or incorrect use of antibiotics, coupled with the bacteria’s astonishing ability to adapt, means the disease is now close to becoming a super bug.
Bacteria that survive antibiotic treatment due to a mutation makes them resistant. Once resistant, they quickly spread their genes in an accelerated process of natural selection. This is a general problem affecting all antibiotics, but gonorrhea is particularly quick to adapt because it is good at picking up snippets of DNA from other bacteria.
The World Health Organization (WHO) blames the misuse of antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials for the formation of new types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that resist current treatments. The U.N. health agency is urging governments and doctors to step up surveillance of antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.
Millions of people may be at risk of running out of treatment options unless urgent action is taken, according to the WHO. Already several countries, including Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom are reporting cases of resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics — the last treatment option against the gonorrhea bacteria. Every year an estimated 106 million people are infected worldwide.
We do fear that based on what we are hearing around the world, we will see cephalosporin-resistant bacteria, Dr. Gail Bolan, director of STD prevention at the CDC, said at the time. We don’t know when this is going to happen, but the hope is that we have a few years to identify other treatments.
The long-term consequences of untreated gonococcal infections include persistent urethritis, cervicitis, proctitis and disseminated infections that could lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, first-trimester abortion, ectopic pregnancy and maternal death. Health consequences to neonates (babies born to gonorrhea infected moms) include severe infections that may lead to blindness.
In addition, gonococcal urethritis, like many other STIs, significantly increases the risk of acquiring and transmitting HIV infection.
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Have you had an experience with a drug-resistant form of gonorrhea? Do you think drug-resistant gonorrhea is going to get worse or will they find an alternative cure? Share your thoughts in the comments section below!