The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has announced that only one last antibiotic is capable of fighting Gonorrhea. That means Super Gonorrhea is just around the corner. It is inevitable that once the current strain of gonorrhea becomes resistant to the last remaining treatment, it is only a matter of time until Super Gonorrhea arrives –– a new, more potent version of gonorrhea that will get into the bloodstream and be lethal.
In a recent Atlantic article, James Hamblin described the “ominous tones” of the CDC presenters at the telebriefing as they described the future “gonorrhea epidemic.” As awful as that sounds, gonorrhea is currently pretty awful, too. Few people seem to realize that gonorrhea can kill, and it is “tragically effective at making women infertile.” Fortunately, we’ve had antibiotics that worked. But the antibiotics that work are dwindling; over the past decades, one by one they have become ineffective against the power of gonorrhea.
Now there is only one, and it is an injection (not a simple pill) that has to be given along with other drugs. Worse, for it to be effective, everyone who has had sex in the past 60 days with the person who has it must get tested and possibly treated, too. This is no simple matter for today’s promiscuous young people.
Specifically, the CDC declared fluoroquinolones ineffective five years ago. That left the oral treatment, cephalosporins. Now, Hamblin reported, “injected ceftriaxone is the only recommended effective drug we have left. And it has to be given along with either azithromycin or doxycycline.”
This is not a minor problem. Every year, 64 million people worldwide get gonorrhea; 770,000 of those are Americans. How many are going to follow directions when taking the medication, and how many will follow the recommended behavioral changes? Based on history? Not nearly enough.
Hamblin concluded his alarming summary of the CDC telebriefing with this perfunctory advice: get tested, and take the treatment exactly as prescribed and for the full duration of the prescription in order to avoid developing resistance to the antibiotic. Then, he recommended — same old advice — use condoms and avoid having sex (with someone who has gonorrhea).
Amazingly, the Atlantic author then joked that his recommendation for not having sex was not a call for sex robots, but if it “lead to advancements in sex robot technology, well, so be it.” (Seriously, he actually wrote that!)