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Posted: July 11, 2017

Untreatable super-gonorrhea spreading orally, WHO warns


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Untreatable super-gonorrhea spreading orally, WHO warns
False-colour transmission electron micrograph (TEM) of Neisseria gonorrhoeae (the gonococcus) the species of bacteria causing sexually- transmitted disease gonorrhoea. Individual bacterium are Gram- negative, non-motile, kidney- shaped and are typically found in pairs (centre). Infection occurs through genital mucous membranes of either sex: symptoms include pain on passing urine, a discharge of pus from reproductive organs. If untreated, infection spreads and may cause sterility (women): severe inflammation of urethra (men) may prevent passage of urine. Magnification: X 22, 000 at 35mm size.

By Fiza Pirani, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Gonorrhea, one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the U.S., is getting harder and harder to treat, and unsafe oral sex is making the STI particularly dangerous.

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That’s according to a warning issued Friday by experts at the World Health Organization, whose researchers examined data from patients with gonorrhea in 77 countries showing drug-resistant gonorrhea is getting harder, and sometimes impossible, to treat.

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart,” WHO medical officer Teodora Wi said in a news release. “Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them.”

An estimated 78 million people are infected with gonorrhea each year by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex. It disproportionately affects women.

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Gonorrhea can infect the throat, genitals and rectum, but according to Wi, scientists are particularly concerned about the throat.

Wi told BBC that introducing gonorrhea bacteria into the throat through oral sex can lead to what’s referred to as super-gonorrhea, a drug-resistant strain that is often untreatable.

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This happens because antibiotics taken to treat the infection mix with the super-gonorrhea in the throat and create resistance, Wi said.

The rise in resistant gonorrhea is largely due to decreased condom use, increased urbanization and travel, poor infection detection rates and either inadequate or failed treatment, according to the WHO.

Read the full WHO news release.


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