The Birth of Super GonorrheaMarch 25th, 2012 by Olivier
In Japan, a sex worker was discovered to have a new “super” strain of gonorrhea. This form of gonorrhea can not be treated. A team of Japanese and Swedish scientists wrote, in the July 2011 issue of Antimicrobial Agents and Chemotherapy, that this new form may represent “a true superbug that initiates a future era of untreatable gonorrhea”.
Gonorrhea, a.k.a.“the clap”, can lead to fertility problems and pelvic inflammatory disease for women and urethral scarring, urination problems, and kidney failure in men. Unfortunately, pharmaceutical companies aren’t exactly eager to lend a helping hand. Antibiotics are expensive to research and yield low profit margins. Currently there are no new antibiotics on the horizon which is what makes this current evolved form frighteningly unique.
Medical professionals have long been aware of this bacterium’s mutative capabilities. The current drug on the market, cephalosporin, is the fourth antibiotic to be used against gonorrhea. Dr. Stuart Levy, of the Alliance for Prudent Use of Antibiotics, states that we may have accelerated gonorrhea’s evolution.
He may be right. “Regular” gonorrhea (not “super”) is the second most infectious disease in the U.S. with 700k new cases a year. The great demand for treatment gives this STD an opportunity to adapt. Or just look at the time of the Vietnam War where penicillin, the first antibiotic to combat gonorrhea, was used too freely within brothels.
The good news, if it can be referred to as such, is that today’s super strain has not yet been detected in America. This information should be taken with a grain of salt though. Historically, the mutated forms of gonorrhea would first be recorded in Asia and then appear later in the U.S. The present situation mirrors that pattern; recent data shows an increase in U.S. gonorrhea cases with, not an immunity, but an increased resistance to the current drug, cephalosporin.
America’s response to this danger? Dr. Kirkcaldy of the Centers for Disease Control states, “It’s incumbent on researchers in the pharmaceutical and other sectors to step up quickly and boldly to identify new drug combinations”.
Ladies and gentlemen, there you have it…
…The response to a bacteria which continually outmaneuvers the latest medicines, the master plan of defense against this worldwide threat:more drugs. More antibiotics from the same industry which exhibits lackluster zeal due to sub-par profit margins from these drugs. Years later, what’s to stop gonorrhea from evolving again? Would it be unfair to ask for dialogue concerning personal responsibility, or the potential of re-examining society’s carefree, flawed attitude about sex?
No, I am not implying that all people who contract STD’s are immoral, or that drugs should be removed from the conversation. However, I will state that dialogue regarding behavior and responsibility transcend moral, political, or religious connotations– especially when those discussions concern worldwide health.
Gonorrhea evolves. Perhaps it’s time that our dialogue does the same?
- ABC News: http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/super-gonorrhea-scientists-discover-antibiotic-resistant-std/story?id=14027745#.T2TUwsWPVGQ
- Boston Globe: http://articles.boston.com/2011-07-24/bostonglobe/29810382_1_gonorrhea-antibiotic-development-infections
- CDC: http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/313-17/9998-cdc-warns-untreatable-gonorrhea-is-on-the-way
- NY Times: http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/07/12/worries-about-a-gonorrhea-superbug/
- PJ Online: http://www.pjonline.com/forum/new_super_gonorrhea_immune_to_antibiotics