Gonorrhoea infections are increasing, but doctors are running out of antibiotics that can fight the increasingly resistant bacteria causing the sexual disease, the World Health Organisation (WHO) warned on Friday.
Three forms of bacteria known as "superbugs" that can not be killed by the best available gonorrhea medicine have been detected in Spain, France and Japan, according to the WHO. Experts think the introduction of PrEP has led to an increase in men having sex without condoms. But with the growing resistance to commonly used antibiotics by so many bacterial strains, it has become an nearly emergency situation that needs to be addressed. If gonorrhea is added to the mix via oral sex, a resistance to antibiotics can quickly develop.
Nevertheless, WHO stated that making new antibiotics is "not very attractive for commercial pharmaceutical companies".
Cases of untreatable gonorrhea, sometimes known as 'super gonorrhea' are appearing across the world. In Spain, France and Japan, the infection was totally untreatable, WHO's Dr. Teodora Wi explained. The most effective way to prevent gonorrhoea is to always use a condom during sex, including anal and oral sex.
Information, education, and communication can promote and enable safer sex practices, improve people's ability to recognize the symptoms of gonorrhoea and other sexually transmitted infections, and increase the likelihood they will seek care.
Experts said the situation was "fairly grim" with few new drugs on the horizon.
The disease can cause an infection in the testicles and prostate gland which can lead to infertility.
The development of cheap point-of-care tests that would help stop the practice of syndromic treatment of sexually transmitted diseases, including empiric treatment for gonorrhea.
To combat this antibiotic resistance, the World Health Organization issued new guidelines in 2016 global advising doctors to give two antibiotics azithromycin and a last resort drug known as ceftriaxone.
The global health body also raised the red flag surrounding the slow pace of research and development for new drugs to treat the disease, calling the field "relatively empty, with only three new candidate drugs in various stages of clinical development", the statement said. But in 50 countries, some patients have even built up a resistance to "last-resort" treatments, known as extended spectrum cephalosporins (ESCs) - the only antibiotics that remain effective in beating the STD, The Guardian reported.
Gonorrhea has developed resistance to almost every class of antibiotics used to treat it such as penicillin, tetracycline and fluoroquinolones, the CDC said.