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article imageGlobal trend: Gonorrhea becoming very hard to treat

By Tim Sandle     Jul 7, 2017 in Health
Geneva - Rates of gonorrhea are increasing around the world, fueled by oral sex and a decline in the use of condoms. Worryingly this includes several variants of the genus that cannot be easily treated with existing antibiotics.
The new warning comes from the World Health Organization. The United Nations health body warns that, as things stand today, if someone contracts gonorrhea, it is now much harder to treat, and in some cases treatment is impossible. This is because the sexually transmitted infection is rapidly developing resistance to all antibiotics. An estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year. As well as discomfort the disease can cause infertility.
What is gonorrhea?
Gonorrhea describes an infection caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. N. gonorrhoeae is transmitted person-to-person during sexual relations. The bacterium does not survive for long periods outside of the human body, and its primary means of continuance is through unprotected sex.
The warning signs have been around for a couple of years. Back in September 2015, for example, Digital Journal reported on a form of multi-drug-resistant gonorrhea, spreading in the north of England, with a focal point centered in the city of Leeds. This, it seems, was just one localized example of the problem.
READ MORE: Bacterium mutates into dangerous pathogen
With the new concern, the World Health Organization (WHO) reviewed medical data from 77 countries. Big data analytics showed which the organism's resistance to antibiotics was widespread. According to Dr. Teodora Wi, who works for the health agency and was speaking with the BBC: "Gonorrhea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea, the bug becomes resistant."
The reason why oral sex has been highlighted as a practice helping to propel antibiotic resistant strains is because when a person takes an oral antibiotic for a reason, say, to cure a throat infection, a few hardy bacteria will survive. If this person then engages in oral sex with someone who is carrying the Neisseria organism a sharing of genetic information can take place between bacterial species, leading to some cells of Neisseria becoming resistant to common antibiotics. A secondary reason is a reduction, especially among young people, in the use of condoms. For this reason alone, the WHO recommends people who do not have permanent partners practice safe sex.
More about Gonorrhoea, Gonorrhea, Microbiology, Healthcare
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