International health officials are sounding alarms over a new strain of gonorrhea that they say is sweeping the globe, according to the Daily News. The deadly sexually transmitted infection is referred to as a “super bug” because of its wide resistance to antibiotics and conventional treatment.
Biologists identified the mutated germ in Japan in 2008, though the disease has not been confined to the island nation. Recent cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea have arisen in France, Australia, Norway, Sweden and the UK.
“This organism has basically been developing resistance against every medication we’ve thrown at it,” said World Health Organization scientist Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan. “In a couple of years it will have become resistant to every treatment option we have available now.”
Traditional gonorrhea causes severe abdominal pain, discharge and pain during urination. It can have more damaging effects if left untreated, but is easily curable with a simple course of antibiotics. As the second most common STD in the world, gonorrhea infects about 700,000 people in the United States annually.
Dr. Lusti-Narasimhan says the antibiotics usually used to treat the disease (a group of drugs known as cephalosporins) have no affect on the powerful new strain. Even more troubling, according to Lusti-Narsimhan, is the fact that super gonorrhea doesn’t present with the same easily identifiable symptoms as its treatable cousin.
The WHO is looking into new antibiotics and other methods of treatment for this emerging threat. Anyone with symptoms of sexually transmitted infection is encouraged to seek immediate treatment to limit his or her chance of passing the disease on.