I’ve had this post in draft since August of last year. At the time, the post’s provisional title was “Gonorrhea becoming antibiotic resistant.”
Fast forward five months to now.
Newsflash! It is no longer a hypothetical future scenario. Gonorrhea has become antibiotic resistant.
This confirms the fears of both the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization who warned last year that untreatable gonorrhea, the world’s second most common sexually transmitted disease (STD), would soon become a reality. “These are the clinical cases we’ve been waiting for,” said study leader Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario.
Researchers observed that 6.7% of patients with gonorrhea at one Toronto clinic still had the disease after a round of cephalosporins, which is the last antibiotic which doctors are able to use to cure the disease. Out of 133 gonorrhea-afflicted patients who returned for a follow up visit, nine remained positive with the disease, which is roughly one in 15 people.
Adding to the growing fears of health officials in the U.S., Robert Kirkcaldy of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) writes in an editorial that the disease is becoming a threatening disease: “Cephalosporin treatment failures have now been documented in North America. Although this milestone was expected, its arrival is deeply troubling.”
Gonorrhea infects near to 700,000 Americans each year – producing symptoms such as painful urination, abdominal pain, genital discharge, itching and infertility in women. Women who contract both HIV and gonorrhea are more likely to pass HIV onto their children than women with only HIV.
Just one year ago, Gail Bolan, director of the CDC’s sexually transmitted disease prevention program, had said that the “threat of untreatable gonorrhea is emerging rapidly.” At that time, only 1.7% of test cultures of the disease were considered immune in laboratory environments. Vanessa Allen said it proves how fast antibiotic resistance is evolving in disease and that “the problem appears worse than we originally thought.”
Although the nine patients in Canada eventually were cured with the injectable antibiotic known as ceftriaxone, Allen worries that the gonorrhea bacteria will soon develop resistance to ceftriaxone as well: “The next threat is when, not if, the same thing happens with ceftriaxone. And then what?”
To cope, the CDC recommends clinicians no longer prescribe a single antibiotic treatment for gonorrhea. Instead, doctors are advised to give patients an injection of ceftriaxone as well as a week-long course of oral azithromycin or doxycycline.
Meanwhile, the University of Toronto Student Union is merrily planning a sex orgy, oops, “an epic student sex club adventure” for next week, in the name of advancing the students’ “sex education.”
Sodom and Gomorrah, here we come! Whee!!!