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Researchers in Sweden and Japan have found a new gonorrhea superbug. This strain of gonorrhea's antibiotic resistance means that it survives treatment from cephalosporin-class antibiotics, the last known antibiotic treatment for gonorrhea.
This new superbug was found in the throat of a sex worker in Japan. Only a few infections by this new superbug have been detected. The new strain has been dubbed H041.
However, now researchers are worried that the superbug - with its antibiotic resistance - may be able to spread quickly, causing widespread public health problems, reports the Los Angeles Times.
Gonorrhea is diagnosed in around 700,000 Americans each year, according to the CDC. Both men and women can be infected, reports the Los Angeles Times. Gonorrhea can lead to loss of fertility in men, and loss of fertility, pelvic pain, and ectopic pregnancies in women. Serious cases, if left untreated, can end up spreading to a person's blood and joints which can cause death. Gonorrhea can also increase the chances of contracting HIV.
The new gonorrhea superbug is the result of a mutation, which is not the first for strains of gonorrhea which have been known to evolve and develop immunities to antibiotics in the past. Gonorrhea is unique to humans, and can pick up genetic sequences from hosts, reports Popsci.
Also troubling for researchers is this new gonorrhea superbug's ability to pass on its antibiotic resistance other strains of gonorrhea, making them 500-times more resistant against antibiotics, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Men and women who are sexually active and who start showing symptoms of gonorrhea, like burning during urination or rashes, should see a doctor. And, while abstinence is the surest form of protection against gonorrhea, those that choose to be sexually active should know that latex condoms can reduce, but not eliminate, the risks of getting gonorrhea, according to the CDC.
The CDC is working with the NIH to help identify new drugs that can combat this gonorrhea superbug. In the meantime, its advising doctors to treat gonorrhea with cephalosporins and antibiotic azithromycin in order to stop antibiotic resistance, reports the Los Angeles Times.