Science 15 June 2012: Vol. 336 no. 6087 pp. 1364-1365
The World Health Organization (WHO) warned that gonorrhea, which infects 106 million people in the world each year, could soon become untreatable.
In its Global action plan to control the spread and impact of antimicrobial resistance in Neisseria gonorrhoea, released on 6 June, the public health arm of the United Nations sounds a dire note. “The loss of effective and readily available treatment options will lead to significant increases in morbidity and mortality,” the authors write.
Gonorrhea, if left untreated, can lead to infertility in men and women and increases the risk of contracting and transmitting HIV. It can also cause blindness in children born to infected women. The gonorrhea pathogen is now resistant to many common antibiotics such as penicillin and tetracyclines; only one class of antibiotics, called cephalosporins, has remained effective. But in the last few years, Australia, Sweden, Japan, the United Kingdom, and other countries have reported cases of resistance to cephalosporins.