A new, so-called “sex superbug” is causing concern among the medical community after two new cases have reportedly been found in Hawaii.
The superbug, called HO41, is a drug resistant strain of gonorrhea, which could kill people quickly, if an antidote is not found. Although, gonorrhea has been easily treatable since the 1940's, this new strain doesn’t respond to any existing treatments. Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC that he believes the effect of the gonorrhea bacteria could be quicker and more direct than AIDS. Christianson said ‘Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days. This is very dangerous.”
Cases were reported to have spread to different parts of the world. Some articles say that it began in Japan and has showed up in California and Norway. Christianson warned that "This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly."
Symptoms of gonorrhea are not always detected in women and in some men. It manifests itself in painful sores and burning discharge. Untreated, it can lead to sterility, blood poisoning and pelvic swelling.
The Daily Mail says that areas of the U.S. are seeing big increases in normal gonorrhea infections. “During 2010–2011,” it reports, “61% (31/51) of states, plus the District of Columbia, reported an increase in gonorrhea rates." Utah saw a 74 percent rise in gonorrhea cases last year and cases in Minnesota rose 35 percent. Gonorrhea is most common among people between the ages of 15 and 24. Health officials are advising everyone to have a check-up before starting new relationships and to practice safe sex.
William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, has called on Congress to give $54 million to help find an antibiotic for HO41 and to conduct an education and public awareness campaign. He said that "It's an emergency situation. As time moves on, it's getting more hazardous."
The Examiner adds that, “The "sex superbug" is still being researched. Many doctors are hoping to find a way to control infected patients and perhaps develop a vaccine that would prevent future outbreaks.”
However, people haven't died from it yet. CNBC has now added a correction to its article saying: “The statement that H041 was found in places beyond Japan is incorrect, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Gonorrhea strains resistant to a certain antibiotic not routinely recommended by CDC as a first-line treatment regimen for gonorrhea were detected in Hawaii, but other treatments ultimately cured those infections in follow-up. To date, there have been no treatment failures reported in the U.S. for gonorrhea treated with currently-recommended first-line regimens.”
An article in Digital News last month reported that doctors in Ontario were using a new "double approach" to cure apparently drug resistant strains of the disease.
However, Smith said."We have to keep beating the drum on this. The potential for disaster is great,"