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New Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea Causing World Health Epidemic

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A drug-resistant form of Gonorrhea has caused the World Health Organization to put doctors on alert. Millions of people across the world are infected with the sexually transmitted infection each year, which can lead to inflammation, infertility, pregnancy complications and death. Gonorrhea has become so resistant to the drugs that doctors have typically used to treat it that the WHO is urging medical professionals to amp up screening so that a better treatment plan can be developed.

Gonorrhea was once easily treated with penicillin, but over the years it has become resistant to most antibiotics. It is now the second most common STI after Chlamydia. It also increases the risk of becoming infected with other diseases such as HIV. Despite the belief that Gonorrhea is a problem primarily affecting the third world, public health officials are warning that it is not and that it is a worldwide issue that is becoming very dangerous.

Scientists speculate that the overuse or inappropriate use of antibiotics has caused the resistance in Gonorrhea to treatment. Furthermore, Gonorrhea is especially quick to adapt and mutate to avoid being killed by treatments. The over-the-counter availability of some low potency antibiotics is particularly to blame for the disease's ability to mutate and survive. In fact, Japan was the first country to announce that the disease had become resistant to cephalosporins, or low potency antibiotics, because the drugs were so easy to obtain. Other countries have quickly followed suit, including Britain, Australia, France, Sweden and Norway. As a result, the WHO wants countries to limit the use of antibiotics and to increase surveillance of antibiotic use to stem the problem.