Entries in STI (2)


CDC Warns of Super-Gonorrhea

Ingram Publishing/Thinkstock(ATLANTA) -- Valentine’s Day: a time for roses, chocolates, champagne and being with that special someone.  But before celebrating with reckless abandon, information released this week from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reminds lovers to proceed with caution and practice safe sex.

The report from the CDC describes how Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the sexually transmitted infection, or STI, gonorrhea, has become resistant to many forms of antibiotics since the 1930s.  The bug continues to trouble disease experts as it morphs into strains that scientists call “multidrug-resistant gonorrhea.”

Lab studies show that cephalosporins, the current class of antibiotics used to treat gonorrhea, are becoming less effective at treating the disease. If this trend continues, cephalosporin-resistant gonorrhea could emerge in the U.S., like it has in Japan, France and Spain. To help delay the emergence of this new super bug, the CDC made changes to guidelines for gonorrhea treatment. An injectable cephalosporin called ceftriaxone combined with an oral antibiotic is now the preferred treatment.

Gonorrhea is the second-most commonly reported infectious disease in the United States. In 2011, more than 300,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported.

“The continued threat of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea makes protecting against [gonorrhea] more important than before,” said Dr. Lindsey Satterwhite, an epidemiologist in the CDC’s Division of STD Prevention.

Satterwhite emphasizes the need for safe sexual practices. “Wear a condom correctly, think about abstinence, practice monogamy, and get appropriate screening if you’re high risk,” she said. Left untreated, STIs can wreak havoc on the reproductive organs, causing severe medical problems and affecting the ability to have children later in life.

New statistics released from the CDC this week show that these preventative measures are especially important in young people ages 15-24, who account for 50 percent of new STIs. The statistics also reveal the economic burden of STIs. An estimated 20 million people are diagnosed each year in the U.S. Treating these infections cost the U.S. healthcare system nearly $16 billion in direct medical costs.

According to the CDC, the numbers reflect an ongoing, severe STI epidemic.

Satterwhite called this is a wake-up call for the U.S. healthcare system. “People need to remember that all STIs are preventable, treatable, and many curable,” she said. “There’s lots of opportunity to save the nation’s health and save billions of dollars a year in healthcare dollars, especially for the younger population.”

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Super Gonorrhea: Scientists Discover Antibiotic-Resistant STD

Photodisc/Thinkstock(ÖREBRO, Sweden) -- Scientists have discovered a new strain of gonorrhea-causing bacteria in Japan that is resistant to available treatments.

Since the 1940s, the sexually transmitted disease known as "the clap" has been easily treated with antibiotics. But the new strain of Neisseria gonorrhoeae has genetically mutated to evade cephalosporins -- the only antibiotics still effective against the infection.

"This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery," lead researcher Magnus Unemo, professor at the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria in Örebro, Sweden, said in a statement. "Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it."

The discovery, announced by Unemo at the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research meeting in Quebec City, Canada, could hail gonorrhea's transition from treatable STD to global public health threat.

"While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, the history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programs are developed," Unemo said in a statement.

Cephalosporin-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae joins methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci in a sinister class of bacteria known as "superbugs." But unlike hospital-acquired MRSA and VRE, which spread where antibiotic use runs high and immune defenses run low, super gonorrhea could spread anywhere.

"This report points out that antibiotic resistance is occurring not only in hospitals, but out in the community," said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. And while the strain was discovered in Kyoto, Japan, antibiotic-resistant bacteria "don't need a passport."

Antibiotic resistance is not a new phenomenon -- even for Neisseria gonorrhoeae, which developed resistance to several other antibiotics used before cephalosporins.

"We were concerned about this 20 years ago and combated that very effectively," said Schaffner, explaining how gonorrhea treatments have evolved alongside the bacteria. "But if you have a strain that's completely resistant to antibiotics, you have to very quickly develop strategies to recognize the resistant strain and alternative treatment regimens."

Such tests and new treatments could be developed, Schaffner said, but they would likely be more expensive. Amid cutbacks across all facets of research, pharmaceutical companies are investing less in the quest for new antibiotics, he said.

With an estimated 700,000 new cases each year in the U.S. alone, gonorrhea is one of the most common STDs. It spreads through direct contact with the penis, vagina, mouth or anus, and can also be transmitted from mom to baby during delivery.

But only 50 percent of infected women and less than five percent of infected men develop symptoms, such as a burning sensation and discharge. Left untreated, the infection can spread to the skin, blood and other organs causing pain, infertility and even death.

A July 8, 2011, report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention urged doctors to be on the lookout for gonorrhea resistant to cephalosporins, and to report cases promptly.

The new superbug serves as a reminder that antibiotic resistance is a problem that spreads beyond hospital and nursing home walls.

"We need to implement a program so that pharmaceutical companies are motivated financially to pursue research in developing antibiotics," Schaffner said. "And both the public and professional have to be much more rigorous in their expectations and use of antibiotics."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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