The World Health Organization has issued a warning about a well-known STD that could be developing a resistance against antibiotics.
Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases and one that is typically easily treated by doctors, could be more difficult to cure in the future.
"Once this organism develops full resistance to this last antibiotic that we have, we have nothing else to offer to these patients," says Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, scientist at the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, as reported by CNN.
Globally, 106 million people a year become infected with gonorrhea though oral, vaginal and anal sex. Without treatment, the consequences can be severe. Gonorrhea can cause infertility, miscarriages, or eye infections and blindness in babies born with the disease.
Scientists and doctors don't know when the infection is expected to be fully resistant to treatment, but it seems to be moving in that direction at a more rapid rate in other countries of the world, particularly areas with less resources for combating the disease.
"If the resistance is there, what we think is that we're sitting at a tip of an iceberg," Lusti-Narasimhan said. "For places in many other parts of the world where there are much less both human and financial resources, it's very difficult to know the extent of the data."
The WHO recommends the same methods for protecting against gonorrhea as any other STD: use condoms every time and limit your number of sexual partners.