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Gonorrhea: First superbug strain found

Posted by feww on July 12, 2011

“Superbug” strain of gonorrhea has been discovered by Sweden – Japan researchers

The strain is said to be resistant to all the common antibiotics

The superbug strain was discovered by a Swedish scientist Magnus Unemo, who received the samples from his colleagues in Kyoto, Japan.

The strain is said to be extremely resistant to all cephalosporin-class antibiotics—the only antibiotics still effective in treating gonorrhea.

He described the discovery as “alarming” and “predictable.”

“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,” he said.

The fact that the new strain had been found in Japan also follows an alarming pattern, he told reporters.

“Japan has historically been the place for the first emergence and subsequent global spread of different types of resistance in gonorrhea,” he said.

In the past few years trends of gonorrhea drug resistance have emerged in Australia, China, Hong Kong and other Asian countries.

Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a common sexually-transmitted disease (STD), caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.


An electron micrograph of gonorrhea bacteria. Image courtesy http://women.webmd.com/slideshow-pelvic-pain-causes

The infection is readily transmitted when an infected person has ANY type of sex. The infection is spread by contact with the mouth, vagina, penis, or anus.


This was a newborn with gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum caused by a maternally transmitted gonococcal infection.Unless preventative measures are taken, it is estimated that gonococcal ophthalmia neonatorum will develop in 28% of infants born to women with gonorrhea. It affects the corneal epithelium causing microbial keratitis, ulceration and perforation. Source: CDC/J. Pledger. Click image to enlarge


The lesion on this patient’s left hand was due to the systemic dissemination of the Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. Though sexually transmitted, and involving the urogenital tract initially, a Neisseria gonorrhoeae bacterial infection can become disseminated systemically, manifesting itself as a cutaneous erythematous lesion anywhere on the body. Source: CDC/Dr. S. E. Thompson, VDCD./J. Pledger

Gonorrhea—Rates, United States, 1941–2009


Reported Gonorrhea rates in the United States, 1941–2009. Source: CDC 

Gonorrhea—Rates by State, United States and Outlying Areas, 2009

The total rate of gonorrhea for the United States and outlying areas (Guam, Puerto Rico, and Virgin Islands) was 97.8 per 100,000 population. Source: CDC

What is gonorrhea?

[Sourced from CDC] Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease (STD). Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

Why Treat the Gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. HIV-infected people with gonorrhea can transmit HIV more easily to someone else than if they did not have gonorrhea.

Gonorrhea can affect the anus, eyes, mouth, genitals, or throat.

In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the ducts attached to the testicles that may lead to infertility if left untreated.

In women, Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can lead to serious consequences including infertility.

PID occurs when certain bacteria, such as chlamydia or gonorrhea, move upward from a woman’s vagina or cervix (opening to the uterus) into her reproductive organs.

About 750,000 women each year in the United States develop PID.

What Next?

  • A major challenge to monitoring emerging antimicrobial resistance of N. gonorrhoeae is the substantial decline in capability of laboratories to perform essential gonorrhea culture techniques required for antibiotic susceptibility testing. This decline results from an increased use of newer non-culture-based laboratory technology, such as a diagnostic test called the Nucleic Acid Amplification Test (NAAT). Currently, there is no reliable technology that allows for antibiotic susceptibility testing from non-culture specimens. Increased laboratory culture capacity is needed. ~CDC

Global Scope

About 340 million new cases of STD including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia and trichomoniasis are reported each year among the 15 to 49 age group, World Health Organization estimates.

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