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News Worms


World Health Organisation warns of a form of Gonorrhea that is untreatable

World Health Organisation warns of a form of Gonorrhea that is untreatable

"Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhoea, the bug becomes resistant".

Seventy-eight million people are infected with gonorrhea each year, according to World Health Organization estimates, with the infection disproportionately affecting women and leading to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, and an increased risk of HIV.

In a recent announcement, the health agency said 77 countries across the globe have had cases of the antibiotic-resistant STI, which means the bacteria responsible for the infection continues to reproduce. Cases where infections are untreatable by all available antibiotics are most commonly found by countries with high-income and better surveillance.

"In the USA, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection". Some signs that a women may be infected include a burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, and vaginal bleeding between periods, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Prof Richard Stabler, from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, said: "Ever since the introduction of penicillin, hailed as a reliable and quick cure, gonorrhoea has developed resistance to all therapeutic antibiotics". If a pregnant woman's infection goes untreated then the newborn could be infected, leading to blindness.

As it stands, the three drugs in the pipeline are Cempra's solithromycin, for which a phase III trial has recently been completed but generated lacklustre results, failing to hit the non-inferiority mark versus older drugs.

But, worryingly, the vast majority of cases are in poorer countries where resistance is harder to detect.

In particular, oral sex without use of condoms is leading to rise in cases of gonorrhea, says WHO. 97 percent of the countries it monitors for trends in drug-resistant gonorrhea reported widespread resistance to the antibiotic ciprofloxacin; 81 percent reported resistance to the drug azithromycin; and 66 percent reported the emergence of resistance to last-resort treatment.

As part of their initiative to improve research and development for new treatments for gonorrhoea, GARDP convened a panel of global experts from various institutions in different regions, including India, South Africa and China.

The other necessary component, a growing problem with many infections besides gonorrhea, is the urgent need for new drugs to treat it. It is highly likely that the "superbug" strain of the STI is already much more common - and being transmitted - in other parts of the world where the disease less likely to be diagnosed.

Gonorrhea is caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea and is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex.

In 2016, the organization began advising doctors to treat infections using both ceftriaxone and azithromycin after more than 50 nations said extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs), a common last-resort treatment, were no longer effective.

In men, gonorrhea can cause a painful condition in the tubes attached to the testicles.

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