Last year, health experts warned that a "superbug" strain of gonorrhea found in Japan could become a new global health threat. It seems those fears have been realized. The World Health Organization (WHO) announced June 6 that many more countries around the world are seeing cases of drug-resistant gonorrhea, according to the Associated Press. And the implications for world health are frightening.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection. It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world, with most cases appearing in south and Southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. According to the CDC, in the United States alone, there are an estimated 700,000 of gonorrhea every year.
The go-to treatment for gonorrhea are antibiotics such as cephalosporin. But this new strain of the disease appears to be resistant to all forms of antibiotics, and it's spreading like wildfire. If left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, severe eye infections in babies, and infertility in both men and women.
Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan from the WHO's department of reproductive health and research, stated, "Gonorrhea is becoming a major public health challenge." She added. "If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant."
According to WHO, drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea are popping up in many countries around the world, including Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and Britain.