Scientists have found the first superbug strain of gonorrhea -- a discovery they're calling both alarming and predictable, Reuters reported.
First discovered in Japan, the H041 strain is resistant to the class of antibiotics, called cephalosporins, commonly used to treat the STD. And researchers worry that the strain could transform the easily treated infection into a global health threat, as it resists the common treatments.
Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, who discovered the strain with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto, said, Since the antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it.
Gonorrhea, a bacterial sexually transmitted disease, if left untreated, can lead to ectopic pregnancy and result in infertility in women.
But Unemo said the fact that the strain had been first found in Japan follows an alarming pattern.
Japan has historically been the place for the first emergence and subsequent global spread of different types of resistnace in gonorrhea, Unemo, who will present details of the finding at a conference of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research (ISSTDR) in Quebec, Canada on Monday, said.
Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world and is most often found in south and southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reproted that the number of estimated cases in the United States alon is 700,000 a year.
According to experts, the besty way to keep the risk of gonorrhea becoming a superbug at bay is to treat gonorrhea with combinatinos of two or more types of antibiotic at the same time -- as well as developing effective new drugs.
Unemo also said prior experience to resistance of gonorrhea suggests this new multi-drug resistant straing could spread around the world within decades.
Base on the historical data ... resistance has emerged and spread internationally within 10 to 20 years, he said.