‘Sex Superbug’: ‘Drug-Resistant Strain Of Gonorrhea’ Found In U.S.
The impact of an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea could match that of HIV/AIDS, according to some experts.
The strain, called HO41, has been placed in the superbug category along with other antibiotic-resistant bacteria, such as methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), CNBC reported.
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No deaths from HO41 gonorrhea have been reported, but this is “an emergency situation” and “it’s getting more hazardous” as time passes, according to William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.
“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.
“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” he explained. “This is very dangerous.”
The new gonorrhea strain, has been found in Hawaii, California and Norway.
Worldwide, nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS. Christianson believes the effect of the gonorrhea bacteria is more direct.
Because it’s antibiotic resistant, the strain has been placed in the superbug category with other resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and CRE. Superbugs like these have a 50 percent mortality rate, and nearly one in 20 hospital patients become infected with one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though no deaths from HO41 have been reported, efforts to combat it must continue, Smith said.
“We have to keep beating the drum on this,” he said. “The potential for disaster is great.”
Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Untreated, the disease can cause a number of health complications in women, including infertility. In men, the disease can be very painful and lead to sterility. It can also trigger other life-threatening illnesses, including heart infections.
In a briefing on Capitol Hill last week, Smith urged Congress to target nearly $54 million in immediate funding to help find an antibiotic for HO41 and to conduct an education and public awareness campaign.
“I’m hopeful we’ll get the additional funds, but I can’t say for sure,” Smith said. “What I do know is we don’t have the resources to fight this as it stands now.”
“This is a disaster just waiting to happen,” Christianson said. “It’s time to do something about it before it explodes. “These superbugs, including the gonorrhea strain, are a health threat. We need to move now before it gets out of hand.”
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