Drug-resistant form of 'super-gonorrhea' may be untreatable, doctors worry

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Gonorrhea May Become Untreatable, Official Says

England's chief medical officer says gonorrhea could soon become untreatable as doctors warn it's quickly developing antibiotic resistance.

Dame Sally Davies wrote in a letter to doctors and pharmacies in Britain that gonorrhea "has rapidly acquired resistance to new antibiotics, leaving few alternatives to the current recommendations."

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Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in England. Cases have increased almost 20 percent between 2013 and 2014 alone. In the United States, the CDC estimates approximately 820,000 new gonorrheal infections occur each year, but less than half of these infections are detected and reported.

Data curated by HealthGrove

Treating gonorrhea usually requires two antibiotics, but because many patients don't receive or take both, not all of the bacteria is killed.

See images of what the disease looks like:

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Drug-resistant form of 'super-gonorrhea' may be untreatable, doctors worry
This illustration depicts a three-dimensional (3D) computer-generated image of a number of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeaediplococcal bacteria. Note that extending from the organisms’ exterior were type IV pili, or hair-like appendages, which in this case, are used to promote motility for these bacteria, and improve surface adherence. The artistic recreation was based upon scanning electron micrographic imagery. (Photo via CDC)
Gonococci Or Neisseria Gonorrhoeae In An Uretral Pus. This Bacterium Is Reponsible For Gonorrhea Blennorrhagia Or Clap, Urethritis, Vaginitis Sexually Transmitted Disease. Microscopy X 600. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - CIRCA 2003: Microphotograph of gonococcus (Neisseria gonorrhoeae), bacteria which causes gonorrhea. (Photo by DeAgostini/Getty Images)
Chart shows rate of drug resistant gonorrhea cases since 2000; 1c x 3 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 89 mm
Gonococci Or Neisseria Gonorrhoeae In An Uretral Pus. This Bacterium Is Reponsible For Gonorrhea Blennorrhagia Or Clap, Urethritis, Vaginitis Sexually Transmitted Disease. Microscopy X 600. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
Gonococci Or Neisseria Gonorrhoeae In An Uretral Pus. This Bacterium Is Reponsible For Gonorrhea Blennorrhagia Or Clap, Urethritis, Vaginitis Sexually Transmitted Disease. Microscopy X 600. (Photo By BSIP/UIG Via Getty Images)
TORONTO, ON - JANUARY 11: Dr. Vanessa Allen leads an international effort to deal with growing problem of drug-resistant gonorrhea. She has just published a ground-breaking study in the Journal of American Medicine based on research conducted at a government lab in Etobicoke that looked at samples from Ontario patients. The medical microbiologist is seen in her public health lab with a plate of cultured Neisseria ganorrhoeae. 13-01-11 Richard Lautens/Toronto Star (Richard Lautens/Toronto Star via Getty Images)
Charts shows the rate of chlamydia and gonorrhea in the U.S. from 2002 to 2006; 1c x 3 1/2 inches; 46.5 mm x 88.9 mm
Health awareness poster features a stalwart soldier accompanied by the text 'Fight ... syphilis and gonorrhea,' 1943. Included are several tips 'Avoid exposure,' 'Avoid pickups and prostitutes,' 'If exposed, use prophylaxis,' and 'If infected, see a medical officer.' (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
Red-tinted poster (by Charles Casa) features a woman in a feathered hat as she smokes a cigarette and leans against a shadowed brick wall on a street corner, accompanied by the text 'Easy to Get...Syphilis and Gonorrhea,' 1940. (Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images)
She may be; a bag of TROUBLE. Syphilis  Gonorrhea. U.S. Public Health Service, United States, 1940s. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
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"Antibiotics were only discovered by people. They were actually invented by bacteria. ... They've been using these weapons to kill each other for 2 billion years. And so they've created defense mechanisms," a spokesman for the Infectious Diseases Society of America told RT.

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But only partly undergoing the necessary treatment kills less-resistant bacteria while creating conditions that make it easier for the more resistant bacteria to spread.

An outbreak of a strain of gonorrhea already resistant to one of the two usual antibiotics began in the U.K. in March.

Data curated by HealthGrove

Scientists fear it could become the dominant strain and are trying to track and monitor those who have it.

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