By: April Carson
A momentous event has taken place: health officials have reported two cases of gonorrhea that are impervious to all antibiotics. This is the first time in U.S history where bacterial strains of this nature have been found, and it poses an imminent threat if not addressed immediately. The implications of drug-resistant bacteria are immense.
The pandemic has caused a spike in sexual activity, alongside fewer people getting regular health checks. This compounded effect led to more cases of sexually transmitted infections (STIs), such as gonorrhea, around the globe — and many strains are now becoming resistant to antibiotics used for treatment. Consequently, this is rapidly developing into an alarming public health emergency.
With this recent discovery of a new strain of highly-drug resistant gonorrhea, the challenge is to develop an effective treatment plan as soon as possible.
If no action is taken to prevent the spread of antibiotic-resistant organisms, an alarming 10 million people worldwide will succumb to infections each year by 2050. At present, 700,000 individuals are already dying annually due to drug resistance - a number that could easily rise if we don't take immediate steps towards this issue.
Specialists predict it was only a matter of time before this particularly hardy gonorrhea strain reached the US. This news is an urgent reminder that we must take extra precautions to protect public health. It also highlights the need for further research into new treatments, such as vaccines and other forms of prevention, so that emerging drug-resistant infections can be avoided altogether.
With much apprehension, Dr. Jeffrey Klausner, a clinical professor of public health at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine in Los Angeles declares that given its prevalence around the globe, it was only a matter of time before this strain would reach and affect our country.
As cautioned by Dr. Klausner, who is part of the CDC workgroup for gonorrhea treatment, an increasing number of strains are becoming resistant to existing antibiotics used against this ailment. Unfortunately, there have been no new antibiotics designed to treat it in years; thus, a different form of therapy must be employed if we hope to fight off this growing issue.
Gonorrhea, one of the most commonly diagnosed infections in America today, is a sexually-transmitted illness caused by Niesseria gonorrhoeae bacteria. This infection can affect mucous membranes found on your genitals, rectum, throat and eyes. In the recent months, a new strain of N. gonorrhoeae has been discovered in the United States that is resistant to two types of antibiotics previously used to treat it: azithromycin and ceftriaxone.
If left untreated, the infection can lead to devastating consequences such as pelvic pain and infertility in women and blindness in newborns. Unfortunately, many people may be infected without even realizing it; thus making a prompt diagnosis essential.
The Massachusetts Department of Public Health issued a clinical alert to physicians regarding the reduced susceptibility of certain strains of gonorrhea in the state to ceftriaxone, cefixime and azithromycin. Additionally, these same strains have proven resistant to more traditional treatments like penicillin, tetracycline and ciprofloxacin.
The risk of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea is not only limited to the United States; it is an international problem that needs to be addressed.
While the Massachusetts Department of Public Health has yet to establish a link between these incidents, they have indeed recommended that in 2021 ceftriaxone be administered as a double dose in order to counter the bacteria's growing resistance. This solution seems successful for this particular situation, however it is merely an emergency measure and professionals are adamant that we must develop another approach soon.
Dr. Klausner is pushing forward in his mission to gain the FDA's approval for an innovative test that could customize antibiotic treatments according to a person's particular strain of gonorrhea - known as resistance-guided treatment. This practice has proven successful when treating HIV, TB and other hospital acquired infections but it hasn't been explored before with regards to gonorrhea. With this groundbreaking work, Dr. Klausner may soon revolutionize how we approach such strains of bacteria.
Dr. Klausner's work could be a vital step in helping to reduce the spread of drug-resistant gonorrhea, as well as other sexually transmitted infections.
This strain of gonorrhea, which was previously identified in Asia-Pacific countries as well as the United Kingdom but not yet in the United States, was found to be a genetic match with two Massachusetts residents. Interestingly, it is also similar to a case seen in Nevada; however, that particular one retained sensitivity to antibiotics belonging to at least one class.
As reported by the CDC, initial indicators of gonorrhea may include painful urination, abdominal or pelvic pain, heightened vaginal discharge as well as bleeding between menstrual cycles. Nevertheless, many cases are symptomless and thus it is crucial to get routine screenings done for an early diagnosis.
The emergence of a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea has become an even greater cause for concern, with the potential to spread rapidly due to its ability to resist traditional treatments.
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April Carson is the daughter of Billy Carson. She received her bachelor's degree in Social Sciences from Jacksonville University, where she was also on the Women's Basketball team. She now has a successful clothing company that specializes in organic baby clothes and other items. Take a look at their most popular fall fashions on bossbabymav.com
To read more of April's blogs, check out her website! She publishes new blogs on a daily basis, including the most helpful mommy advice and baby care tips! Follow on IG @bossbabymav
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