Antibiotic resistance is not a new phrase but it becomes alarming when all antibiotics become ineffective against a previously treatable STD (sexually transmitted disease).
WHO estimates that each year, about 78 million people worldwide are infected with gonorrhea with most patients being under the age of 25. There are no published statistics for Kenya, but in 2014 the country was nominated as a regional surveillance hub for drug resistant gonorrhoea.
- Gonorrhea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae. It is transmitted through unprotected vaginal, oral or anal sex with an infected person and also through sharing of sex toys.
- Gonorrhoea can remain undetected in the body for long periods. When symptoms do emerge, they include: burning sensation when urinating, rectal infections, bleeding between periods, pus discharge from the genitals and less commonly, swollen or painful testicles. Untreated gonorrhoea may lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, infertility, blindness in babies born to infected mothers and increased risk of acquiring HIV.
- Get tested especially if you have multiple sexual partners and/or if you have any of the symptoms. You are also encouraged to use condoms correctly and consistently.
- Only 3 cases in Japan, Spain and France have so far been documented as having the gonococcal strain resistant to all antibiotics. The problem is there is lack of proper systems set up to diagnose and report untreatable cases in lower income countries so the likelihood of more cases cannot be overlooked
- There are 3 drug lines used in gonorrhoea treatment; ciproflaxin, azithromycin and last resort treatment line being extended-spectrum cepaholosporins (ESC’s). ESC’s now being ineffective to the cases identified above.
- Contributing factors to resistance have been decreased condom use, poor rates of detecting infection, unrestricted access to antibiotics and under use or over use of said drugs. All of which have contributed to the mutation of the causative bacteria.
- Scientists have noted that Neisseria gonorrhoeae antimicrobial resistance has gathered momentum over the past 8 years. In as much as there are gonorrhea drugs in development, there is no assurance that they will make it to market release if they fail trials.
“New tools and systems are required for prevention, treatment, earlier diagnosis, tracking and reporting of infections, antibiotic use, resistance and treatment failures, said Dr .Marc Sprenger – Director of Antimicrobial Resistance at WHO. “Specifically, we need new antibiotics, as well as rapid, accurate, point-of-care diagnostic tests – ideally, ones that can predict which antibiotics will work on that particular infection – and longer term, a vaccine to prevent gonorrhoea.”
Photo: Kateryna Kon-Shutterstock