"Smart" bacteria make gonorrhoea impossible to treat

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Antibiotics. File Photo: WHO/Jim Holmes

So-called "smart" bacteria have made the common sexually-transmitted infection gonorrhoea impossible to treat in some cases, UN health experts have said.

The warning comes from the World Health Organization (WHO), which has released data from 77 countries showing that the bacteria which cause gonorrhoea have evolved to resist new antibiotics.

Every year nearly 80 million people are infected with the disease.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Gonorrhoea infect the genitals, rectum, and throat and complications disproportionately affect women, including pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility, and an increased risk of HIV.

At a press conference the World Health Organization (WHO), Dr Teodora Wi expressed concern that the findings represent "just the tip of the iceberg" since the disease is more common in lower income countries.

And it's in these poorer nations that systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking.

The reasons for gonorrhoea's increased resistance to drugs include falling condom use, urbanization and travel, WHO says.

The agency's study – based on data gathered from 2009 to 2014 – showed that the disease has developed resistance to the two most commonly used antibiotics in at least eight out of 10 countries, and that there is significant emerging resistance to so-called "last-resort" drugs in more than 50 countries. 

Daniel Johnson, United Nations, Geneva.

Duration: 1’03″

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