A new form of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea has emerged according to international research. A study from the Swedish Reference Laboratory finds that the sexually transmitted disease has become resistant to cephalosporins, the antibiotics typically used to treat the bacterial infection.Researchers warn that the infection could become a “global threat to public health.”
Dr. Magnus Enemo, from the Swedish Research Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, tells the BBC: “While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, the history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programs are developed.”
In the early Eighties, gonorrhea became resistant to penicillin and tetracycline, which gave rise to an uptick in infections, almost 500 per 100,000 people. Since then, the CDC has been monitoring susceptiblities of antimicrobial strains of gonorrhea. As a cure becomes increasingly elusive, doctors turn to emphasising prevention through condoms and dual-treatment, the use of two antibiotics.
In the U.S., gonorrhea is more prevalent in women than men, aged 15-24 and most highly concentrated in the South and Midwest, according to figures from the CDC in 2009. The CDC estimates that more than 700,000 people contract the infection each year. If left untreated, gonorrhea is a major cause of pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infertility and can facilitate transmission of HIV.
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