STI On Its Way To Being Untreatable

Siboniso Mawandla | The Republic Mail

By Nompumelelo Nkosi

One of the vicious STI’s is making its way to being untreatable. Health officials are warning about untreatable “superbug” strains of gonorrhoea that has spread to at least three people worldwide. The World Health Organization (WHO) said its likely being spread to others through sex, FOX news reported.

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

Gonorrhea is caused by infection with the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It tends to infect warm, moist areas of the body, including the, urethra (the tube that drains urine from the urinary bladder), eyes, throat, vagina, anus and female reproductive tract (the fallopian tubes, cervix, and uterus). Gonorrhoea is often asymptomatic and if left untreated could cause pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as increased risk of HIV. The three cases, which were detailed in the journal PLOS Medicine, were confirmed in Japan, France and Spain. No known antibiotic has been effective in treating these patients.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhoea is actually more common,” Wi said.

Gonorrhea passes from person to person through unprotected oral, anal, or vaginal sex. People with numerous sexual partners or those who don’t use a condom are at greatest risk of infection. WHO analyzed data from 77 countries and reported widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics, with decreasing condom use, increased urbanization and travel, poor infection detection rates and inadequate or failed treatment all contributing to an increase in instances.

According to Sowetan Live, Only a handful of cases of untreatable‚ fully drug-resistant cases of gonorrhoea have been detected in South Africa. The first two untreatable cases were detected in Johannesburg in 2012 and reported in the Journal of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy.

Ranmini Kularatne‚ pathologist at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases said: “Our surveillance shows that gonorrhea in SA remains treatable with currently used dual antibiotic therapy [two drugs at a time]. However‚ extensively-drug resistance gonorrhoea‚ has been detected in other parts of the world.”

In South Africa‚ doctors have stopped using the older drugs that gonorrhoea is resistant to and use two different antibiotics at the same time that still work. The disease is monitored‚ with all cases having to be reported to the National Institute for Communicable Diseases.

“To control gonorrhoea, we need new tools and systems for better prevention, treatment, earlier diagnosis and more complete tracking and reporting of new infections, antibiotic use, resistance and treatment failures,” Dr. Marc Sprenger, director of antimicrobial resistance at WHO, said in a news release. “Specifically, we need new antibiotics, as well as rapid, accurate, point-of-care diagnostic tests – ideally, ones that can predict which antibiotics will work on that particular infection – and longer term, a vaccine to prevent gonorrhoea.”