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Untreatable 'Superbug' Gonorrhoea On The Rise

This sexually transmitted disease will soon turn deadly and incurable according to a WHO report.

Untreatable Superbug Gonorrhoea On The Rise

A drug resistant version of gonorrhoea can spread through intercourse

World Health Organization (WHO) said on Friday that at least three people worldwide are infected with totally untreatable "superbug" strains of gonorrhoea. These people are likely to be spreading the disease to others through sexual contact.

"Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug" says Teodora Wi, a human reproduction specialist at the Geneva-based UN health agency. "Every time you introduce a new type of antibiotic to treat it, this bug develops resistance to it." The WHO estimates 78 million people a year get gonorrhoea, an STD that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat. But the data cannot be completely trusted as the surveillance for the disease is not accurate enough in most of the affected nations.

Dr. Om Shrivastava, a Mumbai-based infectious diseases consultant, says he sees about five patients diagnosed with gonorrhoea every month. "About 40 per cent of the infected patients have to undergo repeated treatment as they develop resistance to antibiotics. Further, a third of those who develop resistance suffer from recurrent urinary tract infections, pelvic inflammation, tuberculosis of ovary, uterus and infertility," he said.

A study on drug-resistant gonorrhoea was done by the WHO Global Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme between 2009 to 2014. 77 countries were put under surveillance and 97% of the countries were found with a widespread resistance to first-line medicine of the disease ciprofloxacin. 81% countries also reported increasing resistance to azithromycin. Further, 66% reported emergence of resistance to the last-resort treatment known as extended-spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs).

India's specific data related to this study is unavailable due to lack of research and development capital in the nation. "However, we are building a national repository of antibiotic resistance research with surveillance in 10 sentinel sites across India," said Dr Sudip Gupta, Additional Director, National Centre for Disease Control (NCDC).

The situation needs to be controlled globally or else there might be an epidemic outbreak which would be hard to control. This sexually transmitted disease affects 7.8 crore people annually on a global level. If the disease becomes completely drug resistant, we could have a tough task ahead of us. 

Also read: Using condom incorrectly could lead to gonorrhoea


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