An acute gonorrhoea infection

Scientists have discovered a strain of the sexually transmitted gonorrhoea bacteria in Japan that is resistant to all available antibiotics.

The international research team warned that the new strain is likely to transform a common and once easily treatable infection into a global threat to public health.

The details of the discovery made by Dr. Magnus Unemo, Dr. Makoto Ohnishi, and colleagues were presented at the 19th conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research on Monday in Quebec City, Canada.

“This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery,” said Dr. Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria.

“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.

Condoms can reduce the risk of transmission

“While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, 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. Unemo continued.

Gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world. In the US alone the number of cases is estimated at 700,000 annually.

Gonorrhoea is characterised by a burning sensation when urinating and pus discharge from the genitals. If left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to serious and irreversible health complications in both women and men.

In 3-4% of cases, untreated infections spread to the skin, blood, joints, or even the heart and can cause potentially mortal lesions.

Between men, gonorrhoea is transmitted primarily through unprotected anal intercourse and giving oral sex. Condoms, when used consistently and correctly, can reduce the risk of transmission of gonorrhoea.

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