Doctors Warn of Gonorrhea 'Superbug,' Resistant to Antibiotics and Able to Kill

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A new strain of sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea has many doctors worried, as it has proven to be antibiotic-resistant, able to kill a person within days.

It is considered a superbug and has the potential to be as deadly as AIDS.

Called HO41, the strain was discovered in Japan two years ago in a female sex worker. It has since spread to Hawaii, California and Norway.

Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported STD in America and mainly affects people ages 15-24.

The strain of gonorrhea has been resistant to multiple antibiotics.

"This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly," Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, said.

"Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days."

Christianson believes it could end up being worse than AIDS because it is more direct.

William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition for STD Directors, said last week they were asking Congress for $54 million in immediate funding to find an antibiotic to treat HO41. They also want to launch a campaign to raise awareness of it.

There have been no deaths reported yet from the disease, but experts say it is best to avoid contracting it.

"People need to practice safe sex, like always," Christianson said. "Anyone beginning a new relationship should get tested along with their partner. The way gonorrhea works, not everyone knows they have it. And with this new strain it's even more important than ever to find out."

The STD has been around since medieval times, and sometimes results in painful sores, ectopic pregnancies and sterility. Mostly, though, the disease is silent.

If it is left untreated, it can lead to many complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and blood stream infections.

The risk of contracting HIV also rises with gonorrhea as the sores make it easier for the virus to enter the bloodstream.

Certain areas of the United States have seen a spike in the disease, with Utah seeing a 74 percent rise since 2012 and Minnesota seeing a 35 percent rise. 

The last available class of antibiotics used to treat the disease, cephalosporin, has been failing across the globe. Experts warn that the chances of all types of gonorrhea becoming untreatable is very real.

Professor Cathy Ison, head of the National Reference Laboratory for Gonorrhea, said, "There is a possibility that if we don't do something then it could become untreatable by 2015."

Sources: Daily Mail, NBC