More bleak news for the future of healthcare: On Friday, the World Health Organization announced that new antibiotic-resistant strains of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea have been found in 77 countries.
“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Dr Teodora Wi, Medical Officer, Human Reproduction, at WHO.
According to WHO, 78 million cases of gonorrhea are reported yearly. The report found “widespread resistance” to two of the most common drugs used to treat the STD, ciprofloxacin and azithromycin, as well as the “last resort” treatment, what’s known as extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs) oral cefixime or injectable ceftriaxone.
The organization is now calling for new treatment. Currently there are three new drugs in the trial phase, although WHO notes that developing new antibiotics “is not very attractive for pharmaceutical companies,” as the bacterial strains become resistant so quickly and the “supply of new drugs constantly needs to be replenished.” Well, too bad?
Gonorrhea is passed through unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex and can infect both men and women. While it isn’t life-threatening, it can lead to serious complications, particularly in infected women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, and can increase the risk of contracting HIV.
General symptoms include painful urination and an increased need to urinate, sore throat, and discharge. Men may experience swollen or painful testicles, and women, pain in the lower abdomen and during sex. As with other STDs such as HPV, in some cases it’s symptomless, but the carrier can still pass it on to their next sexual partner.
Now, TGIF, and wear a condom, folks.