For years, there were warnings of a strain of super gonorrhea, as the widespread use of the same antibiotics would lead the bacterium to build up resistance to treatment. Now, it appears the day of reckoning with an untreatable strain of this sexually transmitted infection may have arrived.
An English man is dealing with a case of gonorrhea completely resistant to antibiotic treatment, which is the first time this has ever been reported. As reported by the BBC on Wednesday, the man is believed to have contracted super gonorrhea from a woman in Southeast Asia.
“This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics,” Dr. Gwenda Hughes from Public Health England told the BBC. “We are following up this case to ensure that the infection was effectively treated with other options and the risk of any onward transmission is minimized.”
Warnings of an untreatable gonorrhea started back in 2015 with a report of antibiotics failing to treat the disease in England. Then, in 2016, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that the last broad-spectrum antibiotic, azithromycin, was starting to fail at curing cases of gonorrhea.
There is one last antibiotic doctors will use to try to cure the disease, and there’s cautious optimism this one will work. They will find out if it was successful next month. Health officials have begun contacting and testing the man’s other sexual partners to control the infection’s spread. So far, no other cases of the super-strain have turned up.
The Centers for Disease Control recommends sexually active individuals get tested annually. Symptoms of gonorrhea include burning urination and some discharge in men, however, women tend to not show any symptoms. If untreated, it can spread to the joints, skin, and heart. As always, practicing safe sex helps prevent infections.