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‘Super Gonorrhea’ is spreading like wildfire thanks to COVID-19

Published Dec 23rd, 2020 5:47PM EST
super gonorrhea
Image: University of Sheffield

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  • Overuse of antibiotics during the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the more rapid spread of a type of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
  • This so-called ‘Super Gonorrhea’ does not respond to the normal first-line treatments, making it particularly dangerous and uncomfortable for those afflicted.
  • Doctors and medical experts have long warned of the possibility that “superbugs” that are antibiotic-resistant could become more commonplace, and this is one example of such a thing happening.

2020 hasn’t been kind to anyone, but it’s almost over. Unfortunately, if you find yourself with a case of “Super Gonnorhea” you might feel the effects of this terrible year for an extended period of time. Doctors are now warning of the increasing spread of the antibiotic-resistant strain of STI, and they’re blaming the coronavirus pandemic for helping it gain momentum.

According to a report from The Sun, the problem has gotten so bad that the World Health Organization has taken notice. The issue is that as the coronavirus pandemic was ongoing, many clinics and hospitals used antibiotics in the treatment of patients and to prevent the cross-infection of hospitalized individuals. That overuse of antibiotics has given a boost to antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea, according to WHO.

Antibiotics are great. They have saved countless lives and provided mankind with the incredible power to rid ourselves of problematic microbes. Unfortunately, as the decades began to pile up, the very microorganisms we fought using antibiotics began to find ways around them. Now, several types of antibiotic-resistant bacteria are known to exist, and these “superbugs” require more complex treatment that sometimes includes multiple antibiotics or newer versions of drugs that are not yet compromised.

In the case of gonorrhea, the bacterium that causes the infection has, over time, adapted to common first-line treatments. In particular, the new “super” strain of the infection doesn’t respond to treatment with azithromycin, which has long been the go-to medication option.

“Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhoea,” a WHO spokesperson told The Sun. “Azithromycin – a common antibiotic for treating respiratory infections – was used for Covid-19 treatment earlier in the epidemic.”

“During the pandemic, STI services have also been disrupted. This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result. Such a situation can fuel emergence of resistance in gonorrhea including gonorrhea superbug (super gonorrhoea) or gonorrhoea with high level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it.”

The worst part is that the number of people reporting a new gonorrhea infection is growing year-over-year, to the tune of about 17%. That means more and more people are getting the infection, and the antibiotic-resistant strain of the bacteria has an even larger population of people to further its adaptation to medications and other treatments.

Be safe out there.