The research, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that nine of 133 patients with gonorrhea at a Toronto clinic still had the disease after a round of cephalosporins, the last effective oral antibiotic for treatment.
"Its arrival is deeply troubling," Dr. Robert D. Kirkcaldy of the Division of STD Prevention of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) said in a press release. "Clinicians now face the emergence of cephalosporin-resistant N. gonorrhoeae without any well-studied, effective backup treatment options."
Gonorrhea, the world's second most common sexually transmitted disease, infects an estimated 700,000 Americans each year. Common symptoms include itching, painful urination, abdominal pain, genital discharge and infertility in women.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and CDC have been warning about an era of untreatable gonorrhea after individual cases were found in lab settings in addition to being reported in Japan, the UK, Austria, France and Norway.
Lead researcher Vanessa Allen told U.S. News and World Report that although the results "aren't generalizable to the overall concentration because they all came from one clinic," the problem "appears worse than we originally thought."
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