There’s disturbing news coming from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: The sexually-transmitted disease Gonorrhea is getting close to being untreatable. There’s only one antibiotic left that works against the disease, and if gonorrhea continues to mutate then it too may become ineffective. That’s right: You could have “the clap” for the rest of your life, and it’s all because of the over-prescription of antibiotics:
“Gonorrhea used to be susceptible to penicillin, ampicillin, tetracycline and doxycycline — very commonly used drugs,” said Jonathan Zenilman, who studies infectious diseases at Johns Hopkins.
But one by one, each of those antibiotics — and almost every new one that has come along since — eventually stopped working. One reason is that the bacterium that causes gonorrhea can mutate quickly to defend itself, Zenilman said.
“If this was a person, this person would be incredibly creative,” he said. “The bug has an incredible ability to adapt and just develop new mechanisms of resisting the impact of these drugs.”
Another reason is that antibiotics are used way too frequently, giving gonorrhea and many other nasty germs too many chances to learn how to survive.
“A lot of this is occurring not because of treatment for gonorrhea but overuse for other infections, such as urinary tract infections, upper respiratory tract infections and so forth,” Zenilman said.
Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to joint pain, pelvic inflammatory disease, lesions, and in some cases, blindness, cardiovascular disease and meningitis.
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