New drugs needed against hard-to-treat Gonorrhoea: UN

Antibiotic resistance is making gonorrhea harder and sometimes even impossible to treat, according to a new warning from the World Health Organization (WHO). Therefore, a new drug may be urgently needed to treat the disease.

About Gonorrhea:

  • Gonorrhea, also called “the clap“, is a disease caused by bacteria. Untreated, it can cause painful pelvic inflammation in women, and infertility in both genders.
  • In extreme cases, the bacteria can spread in the blood to cause life-threatening infections in other parts of the body.
  • Symptoms of infection include painful urination and abnormal discharge, but many will experience no symptoms at all.

Gonorrhoea prevention

  • Gonorrhoea can be prevented through safer sexual behaviour, in particular consistent and correct condom use.
  • Information, education, and communication can promote and enable safer sex practices, improve people’s ability to recognize the symptoms of gonorrhoea and other sexually transmitted infections, and increase the likelihood they will seek care.
  • Today, lack of public awareness, lack of training of health workers, and stigma around sexually transmitted infections remain barriers to greater and more effective use of these interventions.
  • 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,” said Dr Marc Sprenger, Director of Antimicrobial Resistance at WHO.

What’s the concern?

  • Gonorrhea resistance to penicillin and tetracycline, a common broad-spectrum antibiotic, first emerged in the 1970s in Asia, spreading to the rest of the world during the early 1980s, according to the WHO.
  • Resistance to the next level antibiotic, ciprofloxacin, developed in the mid-2000s. A third generation of drugs called cephalosporins — orally-administered cefixime and injectable ceftriaxone — then came into use.
  • But resistance to cefixime — and more rarely to ceftriaxone — has now been reported in more than 50 countries. These are so-called multi-drug resistant (MDR) strains.

 How bacteria become resistant?

  • Bacteria can become resistant to drugs when people take incorrect doses of antibiotics. Resistant strains can also be contracted directly from animals, water and air, or other people. When the most common antibiotics fail to work, more expensive types must be tried, resulting in longer illness and treatment.
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