Enlarge / A scanning electron micrograph of Neisseria gonorrhoeae. (credit: NIH)
At least three people in three different countries have turned up with cases of completely incurable gonorrhea—and it’s unclear what happened to all of them and if they’re spreading the infection to others, officials at the World Health Organization report.
These cases highlight two big concerns about gonorrhea: one is that resistance to last-line drugs is alarmingly popping up around the world and appears to be increasing; and the second is that we have lousy surveillance and data on this.
In two reports in PLOS Medicine, the WHO warned of the dangers of drug-resistant gonorrhea infections, which can cause infertility and increase the risk of contracting other infections in those left untreated.
Summarizing the latest surveillance data, WHO researchers found worldwide incidence of drug-resistant infections and announced that these are on the rise. However, while the data is worrying, it doesn’t actually demonstrate international increases—because there just isn’t enough data to do so.
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