GONORRHEA, the second most common sexually transmitted disease, is rapidly growing resistant to the last class of antibiotics that can effectively treat the infection, the World Health Organization warned Wednesday.
Every year some 106 million people around the world are infected with gonorrhea, the U.N. health agency said.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 700,000 people in the United States get new gonorrhea infections each year and less than half of these infections are reported to the CDC. In recommendations released Wednesday, the WHO called for greater oversight on the correct use of antibiotics and more research into alternative treatments for infections. The agency’s Global Action Plan also urges increased monitoring and reporting of resistant strains of the disease, as well as better prevention, diagnosis and control of infections. “Gonorrhea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options,” Dr. Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, of WHO’s Department of Reproductive Health and Research, said in a news release. “The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won’t know the extent of resistance to gonorrhea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients,” she added.
Since the development of antibiotics, gonorrhea has developed resistance to a variety of antibiotics, including penicillin and tetracyclines, and appears to be developing resistance to cephalosporins, the last line of drug defense, the agency said.
Gonorrhea can be prevented through safe sex practices. Early detection and treatment, including of sex partners, is essential to control sexually transmitted diseases, WHO said.