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‘Untreatable & smart’ gonorrhea overcoming antibiotic treatments – WHO

Contracting gonorrhea may be even more dangerous in the future as doctors are finding that the sexually transmitted infection is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has issued a stark warning to those engaged in unsafe sexual trysts about the STD that is known to increase the risk of HIV.

Cases of gonorrhea, which can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, are on the rise due to unsafe sex and the waning power of antibiotics, the health body said Friday.

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Data compiled by the WHO shows that 97 per cent of the 77 nations observed found drug-resistant strains of gonorrhea.

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said Dr Teodora WI, medical officer at WHO.

Approximately 78 million people are infected with the virus each year. But, according to the WHO, some cases are now being found where the infection is “untreatable by all known antibiotics”.

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

The WHO Global Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme monitors trends in gonorrhoea treatment.

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Information provided by the division about the development of new anti-gonorrhoea drugs paints a bleak picture, with only three new treatments currently being explored, all at differing stages of development.

“To address the pressing need for new treatments for gonorrhoea, we urgently need to seize the opportunities we have with existing drugs and candidates in the pipeline,” said Dr Manica Balasegaram, from the WHO Global Antibiotic Research Development Partnership.

“In the short term, we aim to accelerate the development and introduction of at least one of these pipeline drugs, and will evaluate the possible development of combination treatments for public use,” he added.

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