The increase in cases of gonorrhea caused by bacteria that no longer respond to available antibiotics is worrying. In Italy 4 thousand new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year, which can be prevented (just use a condom)
Recently, in the UK, public health authorities have sounded the alarm for three new cases of gonorrhea
. Why fret, seeing as this sexually transmitted infection, caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeaeis the second most widespread in the world after
? Because, unfortunately, those three cases were due to a version of the bacterium that is very resistant to treatment. So much so that this one “Supergorrhea
As the experts themselves have dubbed it, it threatens to become an omnipresent danger in the age of antibiotic resistance.
Increase in sexually transmitted diseases in Italy
Few numbers are enough to frame the problem: the Antibiotic-resistant infections kill about 1.5 million people worldwide every year. Pathologies for which there were effective therapies have “evolved”, due to ouror incorrect use of antibiotics, in worse versions that have learned to counter the attack of drugs which, in fact, no longer have an effect. Patients who until a few years ago could recover with the right dose of antibiotic, now they risk dying. This is not a marginal problem: only in Italy, the registers of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità report 4 thousand new cases of sexually transmitted diseases every year (including about a thousand of gonorrhea), with figures in constant growth. This is why gonorrhea is so worrying: it has been shown to be capable of transforming itself into a bacterium resistant to most of the antibiotics available.
Supergorrhea and serious consequences
“In 2016, the case of an English man with a gonorrhea infection resistant to all the antibiotics used up to then caused a sensation – he says. Alessandra Latini, Head of the Sexually Treatable Diseases Unit of the Hospitaller Physiotherapeutic Institutes (Ifo) – San Gallicano Institute (Isg) of Rome -. At that time the term “supergorrhea” or “supergonococcus” was coined to indicate an infectious disease or a bacterium no longer sensitive and no longer curable by the antibiotics generally used. In practice, for more than a decade we have been fighting against the risk of no longer being able to avoid the spread of gonorrhea from one person to another or its consequences for health. A danger that grows with each new version of supergorrhea ». Land complications of infection, when left untreated, can lead to serious consequencesi (in addition to pain, burning, chronic inflammation of the genitals): pelvic inflammatory disease for women, early miscarriages, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in males and females. Furthermore, gonorrhea can facilitate the transmission of other sexual diseases such as syphilis and HIV.
Problems that could occur completely avoid using condoms in all casual sexual relations, with any new partner and with those whose state of health is unknown. In fact, gonorrhea is transmitted through any type of sexual intercourse (vaginal, anal and oral) and maternal-fetal route at birth: a woman who becomes ill during pregnancy can transmit the infection to her unborn child during childbirth. «The treatment of gonococcal infections is quite simple – explains the expert -: it is a bacterial infection and, when the diagnosis is made early, it can therefore be treated effectively with very short courses of specific antibiotics prescribed by the doctor. The gonococcus, however, if treated not immediately or badly is able to acquire (even rapidly compared to other bacterial species) resistance to different classes of antibiotics such as penicillins, tetracyclines, macrolides and fluoroquinolones “. Until the end of treatment it is important that patients refrain from sexual activity to avoid infecting their partners, who in turn must be tested for both gonorrhea and other sexual infections.
The first reports of antibiotic treatment failures for gonorrhea date back to 2000 in Japan and since then the spread of new drug-resistant strains is making treatments less and less effective. Cases of super gonorrhea have multiplied and those of resistance to first-line antibiotics have recently been reported in several European countries. “It is the consequence of an abuse of incongruous antibiotic treatments over the years, of people getting sick of themselves, of doing it yourself, of using Doctor Google instead of turning to specialists – says Latini -. And the Covid pandemic has made matters worse: Many infectious disease wards have suspended or curtailed activities for months, so many cases of sexually transmitted infections have not been diagnosed correctly and, as a result, more people have been forced to self- dressing. A situation that can fuel the emergence of both resistance to treatment and super gonorrhea ».
Pay attention to these alarm bells
What are the symptoms not to be overlooked? «In women, heartburn and difficulty in urinating, greenish-yellow secretions, pain during or after sexual intercourse, vaginal itching – concludes the specialist -. In men, the disease manifests itself with abundant, thick, greenish-yellow secretions, heartburn and difficulty urinating. If transmitted through oral intercourse, it can infect the throat and cause pharyngitis in both sexes. And bleeding or anal itching should never be overlooked ». To arrive at the diagnosis, a urethral swab in man and cervical or vaginal in women, but there are also oral and rectal swabs: molecular laboratory tests based on the amplification of nucleic acids (Naat) are currently the most sensitive tests. The culture examination with the antibiogram then allows to evaluate the sensitivity and resistance of the bacterium to antibiotics.
July 13, 2022 (change July 13, 2022 | 11:29)
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