The clap is clapping back.
A new strain of gonorrhea is infecting patients all over the world — and the World Health Organization is sending a warning that this mutant “super gonorrhea” is not treatable by current means.
About 78 million people catch gonorrhea every year — but the new antibiotic-resistant strain developed through a mistreatment of gonorrhea bacteria left in the throat after oral sex. Gonorrhea in the throat often looks like strep throat, so doctors prescribe standard antibiotics, which then mix with the bacteria, creating antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
Both of the current antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea — ceftriaxone and azithromycin — are becoming increasingly ineffective against the new strain.
“The bacteria evolve(d) to resist them,” said agency Medical Officer Dr. Teodora Wi.
U.S. authorities have had some success against gonorrhea by using both ceftriaxone and azithromycin — but it’s unclear how long such a regimen will deter the super gonorrhea.
The sexually transmitted infection, which can affect the genitals, rectum and throat, is the second most commonly reported STD in the U.S. — reported by 820,000 patients each year — but because gonorrhea often exhibits no symptoms, many people are initially unaware they are infected.
Left untreated, gonorrhea can cause burning during urination, discharge, inflammation, and fertility problems in women. It can also increase the risk of HIV. It is spread through sexual contact, but can also spread from mother to child during birth.
Three new drugs are in the development pipeline, solithromycin, which has completed a phase III trial, and two other drugs which have completed phase II trials, but it is unclear how long it will take these drugs to reach the pharmaceutical market and whether they will prove to be stronger than the super bacteria.
Before then, health experts recommend safe sex with condoms, communication with partners, frequent testing, and the old boring standby, abstinence.