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Gonorrhea could go incurable as bacteria turn resistant to antibiotics: WHO

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Thursday, April 29, 2010, 20:32 This news item was posted in health category and has 0 Comments so far.

The sexually transmitted diseases gonorrhea could soon become a threat as most of the widely used antibiotics to treat the bacterial infection are increasingly getting ineffective due to resistance.

The gonorrhea-causing bacteria has developed widespread resistance to the cheaper first- line antibiotics used against the bug primarily because of the improper use of these medicines.

Not only to the first-line treatments, the gonorrhea-causing bacteria has turning resistant to even the most modern antibiotics against the bug.

Australia, Hong Kong and Japan have reported treatment failures with cephalosporin, a class of antibiotics that’s the last line of defense against the disease, WHO officials revealed.

“We are dealing with a serious issue with the implication that gonorrhea may become untreatable,” Shin Young-soo, the WHO’s regional director for the Western Pacific, said in the statement.

If goes uncontrolled, gonorrhea will result in an increase in serious health-related complications. Gonorrhea can result in infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infections in newborn children and swelling of the scrotum.

What is gonorrhea?

Gonorrhea is caused by Neisseria gonorrhoeae, a bacterium that can grow and multiply easily in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix (opening to the womb), uterus (womb), and fallopian tubes (egg canals) in women, and in the urethra (urine canal) in women and men. The bacterium can also grow in the mouth, throat, eyes, and anus.

CDC estimates that more than 700,000 persons in the U.S. get new gonorrheal infections each year. Only about half of these infections are reported to CDC.

In 2006, 358,366 cases of gonorrhea were reported to CDC.In 2006, the rate of reported gonorrheal infections was 120.9 per 100,000 persons.

Gonorrhea is spread through contact with the penis, vagina, mouth, or anus. Ejaculation does not have to occur for gonorrhea to be transmitted or acquired. Gonorrhea can also be spread from mother to baby during delivery.

People who have had gonorrhea and received treatment may get infected again if they have sexual contact with a person infected with gonorrhea.

Symptoms and signs of gonorrhea include a burning sensation when urinating, or a white, yellow, or green discharge from the penis. Sometimes men with gonorrhea get painful or swollen testicles.

In women, the symptoms of gonorrhea are often mild, but most women who are infected have no symptoms. Even when a woman has symptoms, they can be so non-specific as to be mistaken for a bladder or vaginal infection.

The initial symptoms and signs in women include a painful or burning sensation when urinating, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods. Women with gonorrhea are at risk of developing serious complications from the infection.

Symptoms of rectal infection in both men and women may include discharge, anal itching, soreness, bleeding, or painful bowel movements. Rectal infection also may  cause no symptoms. Infections in the throat may cause a sore throat but usually causes no symptoms.

In women, gonorrhea is a common cause of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to internal abscesses (pus-filled “pockets” that are hard to cure) and long-lasting, chronic pelvic pain. PID can damage the fallopian tubes enough to cause infertility or increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy. Ectopic pregnancy is a life-threatening condition in which a fertilized egg grows outside the uterus, usually in a fallopian tube.

In men, gonorrhea can cause epididymitis, a painful condition of the ducts attached to the testicles that may lead to infertility if left untreated.

Gonorrhea can spread to the blood or joints. This condition can be life threatening. In addition, people with gonorrhea can more easily contract HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

If a pregnant woman has gonorrhea, she may give the infection to her baby as the baby passes through the birth canal during delivery. This can cause blindness, joint infection, or a life-threatening blood infection in the baby.

Several laboratory tests are available to diagnose gonorrhea. A doctor or nurse can obtain a sample for testing from the parts of the body likely to be infected (cervix, urethra, rectum, or throat) and send the sample to a laboratory for analysis. Gonorrhea that is present in the cervix or urethra can be diagnosed in a laboratory by testing a urine sample.

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