Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Gonnorhea cases on the rise, could be totally untreatable by 2015

Gonnorhea cases on the rise, could be totally untreatable by 2015, According to the Atlantic Wire on Wednesday, Gonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted disease and one of the most '"intelligent" bacteria, is on the rise in some areas by 25% and may be completely untreatable in the next 3 years, as doctors say it is getting harder to find antibiotics that treat it effectively.

More than 321,000 cases of gonorrhea are reported each year in the U.S. alone—and the actual number of annual infections is probably much higher because many people do not experience symptoms.

The infection has lost much of its social stigma since antibiotics were enlisted to fight it off earlier last century. But left untreated today, it can still cause pelvic inflammation, severe pregnancy complications and female infertility. Its presence increases the odds of an infection with HIV, and babies born to women with untreated gonorrhea are at risk of blindness.

Professor Cathy Ison, head of the National Reference Laboratory for Gonorrhoea which is part of Public Health England, told the Today program: "Hopefully by raising awareness we can at least buy some time and look at new ways in which we can prevent it from becoming untreatable."

Back in January, a Canadian study released by the Journal of the American Medical Association said that they "found that 6.7 percent of patients with gonorrhea at a Toronto clinic still had the disease after a round of cephalosporins, the last effective oral antibiotic used to treat the disease." That was the first incurable strain found on North American soil.

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, associate Director for Healthcare Associated Infection Prevention Programs at the CDC, it means serious treatments for a disease that could have been cured by a few pills. He told PBS's Newshour earlier this month:

The challenge that we face is that we are running out of the first-line treatment options that we like to use. And in particular, we're running out of many of the oral treatment options that we have been able to use. Which means that as we run out of those oral agents, people might need intravenous therapy for treatment of simple gonorrhea infections that in the past could have been treated with an oral antibiotic. This is now being seen in the United States.

The killer strains are not very common right now, but as bacteria and other super bugs become resistant to available antibiotics, it may very well become a nightmare.

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