A new strain of the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea was found to be resistant to antibiotics, international researchers say.
A July 8, 2011, report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged doctors to be on the lookout for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterial strain that causes the disease and can grow and multiply, which is resistant to cephalosporin, a common treatment used for the disease that over the last decade has failed to, and to report the antibiotic-resistant cases quickly.
This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery, lead researcher Magnus Unemo, professor at the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria in Örebro, Sweden, said in a statement. Since 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 has increasingly developed resistance to the antibiotic drugs prescribed to treat it and health officials say there are few antibiotic options left that are simple, well-studied, and highly effective. According to the CDC, more than 700,000 persons in the U.S. get new gonorrheal infections each year and less than half of these infections are reported to CDC.
The new superbug serves as a reminder that antibiotic resistance is a problem that spreads beyond hospital and nursing home walls, ABC News reports. While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, the history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programs are developed, Unemo said in a statement.