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Untreatable gonorrhoea ‘superbug’ spreading around world, WHO warns

July 10, 2017 ·  By James Rudd and agencies for www.theguardian.com

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World Health Organization tells of ‘very serious situation’ after confirming three known cases where all antibiotics were ineffective

 The WHO estimates 78 million people a year get gonorrhoea, an STD that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat. Photograph: Dr. David M. Phillips/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

The WHO estimates 78 million people a year get gonorrhoea, an STD that can infect the genitals, rectum and throat. Photograph: Dr. David M. Phillips/Getty Images/Visuals Unlimited

Untreatable strains of gonorrhoea are on the rise, the World Health Organization has warned, fuelling fears that last-resort drugs will soon be futile after three confirmed cases in which antibiotics were ineffective.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK after chlamydia, with almost 35,000 cases reported in England in 2014. The WHO estimates that 78 million people worldwide contract the disease each year, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25.

The latest warning is based on findings from two studies, co-authored by WHO researchers, looking at data from 77 countries; in more than 50, first-line antibiotics were ineffective.

Untreatable strains of gonorrhoea are on the rise, the World Health Organization has warned, fuelling fears that last-resort drugs will soon be futile after three confirmed cases in which antibiotics were ineffective.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the UK after chlamydia, with almost 35,000 cases reported in England in 2014. The WHO estimates that 78 million people worldwide contract the disease each year, with most cases affecting young men and women under the age of 25.

The latest warning is based on findings from two studies, co-authored by WHO researchers, looking at data from 77 countries; in more than 50, first-line antibiotics were ineffective.

Manica Balasegaram, director of the Global Antibiotic Research and Development Partnership, said the situation was “grim” and there was a pressing need for new medicines.

The pipeline, however, is very thin, with only three potential new gonorrhoea drugs in development and no guarantee any will prove effective in final-stage trials, he said.

“We urgently need to seize the opportunities we have with existing drugs and candidates in the pipeline,” he said. “Any new treatment developed should be accessible to everyone who needs it, while ensuring it is used appropriately, so that drug resistance is slowed as much as possible.”

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