The World Health Organization has identified a gonorrhea superbug. The sexually transmittable disease has sexual health experts in the United Kingom, Africa, and Asia concerned that without innovative treatments, gonorrhea could potentially become antibiotic resistant. A WHO conference
scheduled for early April 2010 in Manilla will address treatment issues for antibiotic resistant gonorrhea.
Britain's Health Protection Agency specialist on gonorrhea, Catherine Ison, declared "This is a very clever bacteria. If this problem isn't addressed, there is a real possibility that gonorrhea will become a very difficult infection to treat." Ison also added that gonorrhea is a common sexually transmitted disease which has a history of adapting to treatments and "overcoming drugs." People infected with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae, host the often silent, sometimes painful disease which thrives in warm, most areas of the reproductive tract and can cause permanent damage or impairment to future fertility. The Neisseeria gonorrhoeae bacteria can flourish in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus of infected men or women.
The WHO sees 340 million outbreaks of treatable sexually transmitted infections yearly and globally in people aged 15 to 49 years. These diseases include not only gonorrhea but also chlamydia and trichomoniasis. The highest incidence of gonorrhea are in South and Southeast Asia as well as in sub-Saharan Africa. A rising number of non-treatable gonorrhea infection has been reported in Japan, Hong Kong, China, Australia, and other sections of Asia. Treatment in most countries involve high dose of single antibiotics, generally cefixime or ceftriaxone. Ison maintains an ominous warning that "ceftriaxone and cefixime are still very effective but there are signs that resistance, particularly to cefixime is emerging and soon these drugs may not be a good choice." Japanese health officials have increased doses of the antibiotics to treat more resistant cases of gonorrhea.
The use of condoms greatly reduces transmission risk. Ison furthers that treating gonorrhea with multiple antibiotics will lower transmission. Ison asserts that though "there are few new drugs available.... using more than one at the same time is probably what should happen in the first instance. We also need to set up good lines of communication between countries so that we can all talk to each other about what's happening in gonorrhea and make sure we change treatment strategies when we need to."