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WHO Warns Gonorrhea Becoming Untreatable

WHO Warns Gonorrhea Becoming Untreatable

World Health Organization officials met with public-health experts in Manila on April 29 to devise an action plan for addressing the growing threat of drug-resistant gonorrhea.

Improper use of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea has resulted in resistance to first-line medicines, according to the WHO. "If this continues, it will only be a matter of time before gonorrhea develops resistance to third-generation antibiotics," the agency said.

Australia, Hong Kong, and Japan already have reported failures with oral cephalosporin, which is currently used as a last-line gonorrhea treatment, the WHO said.

Shin Young-Soo, the agency's regional director for the Western Pacific, warned of the serious implications to public health if gonorrhea becomes untreatable. "There is no place for complacency with the possible emergence and spread of multidrug-resistant gonorrhea," said Shin. "New treatments or alternative treatments for gonorrhea, improving monitoring for antimicrobial resistance, and strengthening gonorrhea prevention and management are urgently needed," he said.

Countries must improve laboratory capabilities to detect gonorrhea resistance, increase awareness of the problem, and scale up disease control efforts, according to the WHO.

Left untreated, gonorrhea can lead to infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, and infections in newborns. Gonorrhea infection also increases the chances of acquiring and transmitting HIV.

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