CDC: Untreatable Gonorrhea Likely on the Horizon

A recent report penned by Gail Bolan, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and published in The New England Journal of Medicine, gives a grave warning about one of the most common STDs – gonorrhea. According to the journal, the illness is showing an increasing resistance to antibiotic treatment, which could make it an untreatable sexually transmitted infection in the future.

“It’s time to sound the alarm,” the report reads. “During the past three years, the wily gonococcus has become less susceptible to our last line of antimicrobial defense, threatening our ability to cure gonorrhea and prevent severe sequelae.”

According to the report, gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported communicable disease among Americans. The illness is more likely to affect marginalized races, ethnic groups and sexual orientations. More than 600,000 cases of gonorrhea are reported every year in America.

U.S. News and World Report states that the STD has been developing resistance to antibiotic treatment for a long time, and until recently, doctors felt equipped to supply patients with stronger medications to take on the illness. However, it appears such is no longer the case.

“As far as gonorrhea goes, I’m not aware of any new drugs in the pipeline,” Nikki Mayes, a spokesperson for the CDC, wrote in an email to the World Report. “This is just one more example of a bigger problem – bacteria are developing resistance faster than we’re inventing new medicines to fight them.”

Symptoms of gonorrhea are often different for men and women. Infected men may suffer from epididymitis, which causes pain in the ducts attached to the testicles. For women, gonorrhea is the most common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease.

Gonorrhea can affect any person who is sexually active. The illness is spread through genital, oral or anal contact, and can be passed when no ejaculate is present. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause permanent health problems in both men and women, according to the CDC. Using latex condoms during every sexual encounter can help reduce the risk of contracting the disease.

Those who suspect they may have been infected with gonorrhea should visit a health clinic as soon as possible. Sexually active patients should be tested for all sexually transmitted infections, even if they are only experiencing symptoms that indicate one illness.

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