United Kingdom & Ireland
Could lead to global health emergency
July 11, 2010
Gonorrhoea is currently a widespread but easily treatable condition. It is estimated to be one of the most common STIs in the world, with around 700,000 cases annually in the US alone.
Scientists successfully identified a previously unknown variant of the bacterium that causes gonorrhoea, Neisseria gonorrhoeae. This new strain, called H041, was found to have extreme resistance to all cephalosporin-class antibiotics, the last remaining drugs still effective in treating gonorrhoea.
Commenting on the findings, study leader Dr Makoto Ohnishi said: “This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery – since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhoea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it.”
He warned that new treatments need to be developed to meet the threat posed by the new bug.
“The history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programs are developed,” Dr Ohnishi said.
If left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to serious and irreversible health complications in both women and men.