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Is gonorrhea rapidly becoming incurable?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
January 10th, 2013
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Gonorrhea or "the clap" as it is known colloquially, is among the most common of venereal diseases. Both male and females usually contract it through sexual intercourse. In men, symptoms include a burning sensation during urination. While it is treated with penicillin, a new strain of the disease appears resistant to medication, leading doctors to fear that it may soon become incurable.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - For example, nearly seven percent of the patients with the disease were unresponsive to drugs at a clinic in Toronto Canada.

According to a recent Canadian study, this is the first instance that a strain has been resistant to antibiotics has shown up in North America. Outbreaks of antibiotic-resistant strains of gonorrhea have since been reported in Europe and Japan.

"We've been very concerned about the threat of potentially untreatable gonorrhea in the United States," Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division for sexually transmitted diseases, said in an interview with Fox News. Bolan says that while there have been such cases in Europe, "this is the first time we've had such a report in the actual North American continent. We feel it's only a matter of time until resistance will occur in the United States," she said.

Previously, only strains of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea in North America have been discovered in labs. These lab cultures have shown they need a steady increase in the amount of the antibiotic cefixime to kill the gonorrhea. Due to this resistance, U.S. health officials had already ordered doctors to top prescribing cefixime.

"We had seen one case beforehand, but this is the first published report, and it's also the first series of cases in North America," said Dr. Vanessa Allen of Public Health Ontario in Canada, who led the study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Allen and her colleagues studied 291 patients with gonorrhea between May 2010 and April 2011 who where treated with cefixime at the Toronto clinic.

The study sought patients that were still infected during follow-up visits. They located 13 who were still infected of the original 291 patients. Only nine said they had not had any sexual contact that could have re-infected them.

"The next threat is when, not if, the same thing happens with ceftriaxone. And then what? I think without a doubt this will become a bigger problem," Allen said.

So-called "superbug" drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea accounted for almost one in 10 cases of sexually transmitted disease in Europe in 2010, more than double the rate of the year before, health officials from the Stockholm-based European Center for Disease Prevention and Control said in June.

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