One of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world is becoming stronger, as cases of “super-gonorrhea” have been reported throughout the world.
According to the World Health Organization, resistance in gonorrhea started after the introduction of antimicrobials – a class of drug that kills micro-organisms – in the beginning of the 20th century. And since then, resistance has been building.
“We have heard a lot about ‘super-gonorrhea’ this year. Basically, when we say ‘super gonorrhea’ we mean ‘gonorrhea superbug,’” states Dr. Teodora Wi, WHO medical officer in an article on the WHO website. “These are extensively drug-resistant gonorrhea with high-level resistance to the current recommended treatment for gonorrhea (ceftriaxone and azithromycin) including resistance to penicillin, sulphonamides, tetracycline, fluoroquinolones, macrolides.”
Wi adds that the “superbug” has been reported in several countries around the world. He attributes the increased resiliency of gonorrhea to five main reasons: the overuse of antibiotics, inappropriate selection of antibiotics, using less than optimal qualities of antibiotics, unrestricted access to antimicrobials, genetic mutations within the Neisseria gonorrhea organism, and extra genital infections.
Gonorrhea can affect anyone and is contracted through unprotected sexual contact with a person who has the infection. It can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery, states the Government of Canada website.
“This bacterial infection is on the rise in Canada and is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Of more concern, in recent years there have been two cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea in Canada related to travel to Southeast Asia,” the website continues.
Wi said the development of new antibiotics is being outpaced by the development of resistance in gonorrhea. However, on a more positive note, Wi concludes that health organizations are collaborating to develop new treatments for the infection.
“Gonococcal antimicrobial resistance will only be effectively mitigated when additionally the global gonorrhea burden is reduced. This is why sexual education is so important,” stated Wi.
“Apart from prevention through safer sexual behavior, the development of a vaccine to prevent transmission is vital and an effective gonococcal vaccine is likely the only sustainable solution for effective control of gonorrhea.”
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