A new drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea potentially worse than AIDS is causing worry as scientists declare it a superbug.
Gonorrhea is the second most commonly reported sexually transmitted infection in the United States, with the most common age group contracting the disease being those between 15 and 24 years of age.
This particular strain, known as HO41, has been spotted worldwide and has so far been resistant to all antibiotics administered in testing. Doctors worry that if they do not find a method of treatment soon, the disease could become untreatable by the year 2015. If this were to happen, there is a high potential for all forms of gonorrhea to become untreatable as they evolve to survive.
Without treatment, gonorrhea can cause a wide range of problems, including infertility, infections of the blood stream, pelvic inflammatory disease and even septic shock. While no deaths have been reported as of yet from this disease, it has the potential to become more deadly than the AIDS virus that has taken billions of lives in the past few years alone. According to Alan Christianson, who said in an interview with CNBC, “getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days.”
Doctors blame the resistance of this new infection to drug therapy partly on the over-prescription of antibiotics that has become common in recent years.
While antibiotics are helpful tools to treat illness, the overuse of them has caused rapid mutation of a wide range of infections attempting to adapt to their hostile surroundings. This has also caused weakened immune systems in the general public, which can make one more open to infection than normal.
As no treatments or cures have yet been discovered, the only advice that can be given is to avoid the disease at all costs. Safe sexual practices are a must, particularly on college campuses, with approximately 60 percent of all reported cases of gonorrhea coming from those between 15 and 24 years of age.
It is also important to know that gonorrhea is a disease that is often difficult to detect without STD screening, as carriers are often symptomless for long periods of time and are often unaware that they have contracted it themselves. Abstinence is the only way to ensure safety from the infection, though the Center for Disease Control also recommends the practice of staying in a committed monogamous relationship with a partner who has tested negative for all STDs and always using protection.