Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Raises Fear of an Incurable STD

Wednesday, 09 Jan 2013 05:08 PM

By Michael Mullins

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Canadian researchers at a Toronto clinic recently reported that 7 percent of its patients have contracted a highly-resistant strand of gonorrhea which cannot be cured by the most powerful oral antibiotic available.

For years, scientists have warned of increasingly resistant strains of gonorrhea with bacteria that one day may make the sexually transmitted disease incurable.

One of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world, gonorrhea has symptoms that often include a discharge from the genitals accompanied by a burning sensation when urinating. Some infected individuals, however, have been found to have no symptoms at all.

In the United States alone, the U.S. Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that 700,000 Americans have the disease.

Though gonorrhea is not usually fatal, the CDC says untreated or uncured gonorrhea can cause extreme discomfort and eventually infertility in both men and women.

The Canadian study, which was released by the American Medical Association on Tuesday, found that of the 133 patients who had the STD, nine remained gonorrhea-positive after being administered the oral-antibiotic cephalosporin.

All nine individuals with the resistant strand were subsequently cured after being injected with a powerful antibiotic, ceftriaxone.

Physicians, however, are seeing more and more strands of gonorrhea that are proving to be increasingly resistant to ceftriaxone as well.

"The next threat is when, not if, the same thing happens with ceftriaxone. And then what?" asked Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario, a lead researcher in the study. "I think without a doubt this will become a bigger problem."

That sentiment was shared by Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division for sexually transmitted diseases.

"We've been very concerned about the threat of potentially untreatable gonorrhea in the United States," Bolan told Fox News.

Acknowledging that there have already been numerous cases of this highly-resistant strand surfacing in Europe and other parts of the world, Bolan added, "We feel it's only a matter of time until resistance will occur in the United States."

In Britain alone, researchers found that 20 percent of test subjects with gonorrhea proved to be resistant to oral antibiotics in 2010, up from 10 percent the year before.

Similar strands of the highly-resistant gonorrhea have also been found in France, Norway, Austria, and Japan.

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