Drug-Resistant Gonorrhoea Spreading Globally


Close on the heels of a post by Julie M. Rodriguez concerning the rise of drug-resistant diseases come warnings from the World Health Organization that a drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea is spreading around the globe. Rodriguez points out that overuse of antibiotics in livestock and lack of money to develop new antibiotics are behind most of the concerns of infectious disease experts.

Alarm bells are also ringing because of the nations that are reporting cases not responding to the standard, last-resort treatment: cephalosporin antibiotics. Included in the list of countries raising concerns are Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Sweden and the United Kingdom.

According to the WHO, 106 million people are infected with gonorrhea annually. Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, who is with WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research, says:

Gonorrhea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options.

The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients.

Resistance to cephalosporin antibiotics is just the latest turn the pathogen has taken. WHO says many common antibiotics such as penicillin, tetracyclines and quinolones are already ineffective and no new drugs are in the pipeline. At fault are “unrestricted access to antimicrobials, overuse and poor quality of antibiotics, as well as genetic mutations within disease organisms.”

Community clinics have been successful for years in treating gonorrhea, but as antibiotics lose their effectiveness, these low-cost options will disappear. WHO’s Global action plan points out what is involved in replacing current treatments, and it will require a kind of testing, intervention and oversight that will add enormous burdens to already sagging health systems.

The good news is that gonorrhea is preventable if partners practice safer sex and is still treatable with early intervention. The bad news is that we have known for a long time that practicing safe sex is the best prevention option, yet 106 million people contract gonorrhea every year.


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Photo credit: Thinkstock


Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago


Jessica Crane
Jessica Crane5 years ago

Eek! Nasty

Heather Marvin
Heather Marvin5 years ago

People need to ask themselves, is a fleeting moment of pleasure worth the price of a terrible disease that could end up in an early death?

Mary Emmons
Mary Emmons5 years ago

Point being. . . practice safe sex people!

Iona S.
Iona S.5 years ago

If the "fixes" for the problem don't work, maybe we should consider avoiding the problem in the first place?

Valarie Snell
Valarie Snell5 years ago


Jason Waldo
Past Member 5 years ago

Just another sign that we are moving into the post-antibiotic world. The experts have known, and been stating, for a long time that antibiotics would become ineffective eventually. It was all a matter of time, and through industrial animal husbandry we have drastically shortened that time. The increased avoidance strategies of microorganisms in our society will also be a potent contributing factor. Through attempts to avoid any exposure to microorganisms we are weakening our own immune systems. A continual low level of exposure to microorganisms allow the immune system to develop strategies to overcome infection before a larger exposure can result in illness. This trend, carried out through enough generations, will eventually lead to a degradation of the inherited portion of the immune system, as well as that passed on through colostrum. Interesting recipe: breed a species with a reduced immune system, breed a microorganism population with increased resistance to antibiotics, stir well and allow to stand for a while. The perfectly mixed self-extinction.

Marie W.
Marie W5 years ago

Reap what you sow.

Ron B.
Ron B5 years ago

We have no one to blame but ourselves on all fronts here.

Marilyn L.
Marilyn L5 years ago

"...lack of money to develop new antibiotics are behind most of the concerns of infectious disease experts." The drug companies should be regulated much more than they are and need to be told under no uncertain terms that they MUST produce any new drugs like antibiotics and vaccines for the good of all people.