Antibiotic-resistant supergonorrhea is spreading around the world

The world has not yet recovered from the COVID-19 pandemic, but alarming news has already come from China – the results of a new study have shown that the world is on the verge of a new pandemic, only this time we are not talking about viruses, but about antibiotic-resistant bacteria. causing gonorrhea. Thus, the latest report from the US Department of Health (CDC) states that up to 98% of bacterial samples taken from patients with STIs in 13 provinces in China were resistant to first-line antibiotics. In addition to the fact that gonorrhea has been virtually untreatable for many years, researchers are concerned about the rising incidence of a new strain of gonorrhea in the Middle Kingdom, which is much more resistant to one of the latest effective antibiotics than in other countries. We tell you what is known about supergonorrhea and whether a new pandemic threatens the world.

Antibiotic-resistant supergonorrhea is spreading around the world. Experts warn that the next epidemic to emerge from China could be supergonorrhea, whose resistance to antibiotics is already 40 times higher than in the US and UK. Photo.

Experts warn that the next epidemic to emerge from China could be supergonorrhea, which is resistant to antibiotics are already 40 times higher than in the US and UK


  • 1 Gonorrhea – what you need to know
      < li>1.1 Symptoms
    • 1.2 Treatment
  • 2 Antibiotics and superbugs
  • 3 Supergonorrhea epidemic
  • 4 What next?

Gonorrhea – what you need to know

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea. The disease can lead to long-term health problems and infertility and primarily affects the genitals, rectum (rectum) and throat. Today, gonorrhea is one of the most common infectious diseases in the world, and, despite the availability of antibiotics, remains a public health problem due to growing antibiotic resistance.

Note that the disease affects people of all ages and gender, but it is especially common among adolescents and young adults aged 15 to 24 years. You can become infected with gonorrhea through oral, anal or vaginal sex. There are also known cases of transmission of infection from a mother to a child during childbirth.

Gonorrhea - what you need to know. A new strain of gonorrhea is completely resistant to antibiotics. Image: Photo.

A new strain of gonorrhea is completely resistant to antibiotics. Image:

Some scientific studies also suggest that gonorrhea can be transmitted through French kissing, but more research is needed to properly assess the potential risk of transmission.

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Symptoms of gonorrhea usually do not take long to appear, although there are cases of asymptomatic disease. The first signs of the disease appear within 2-30 days as pain or burning when urinating. Other possible symptoms include frequent urination, purulent discharge from the genitals, itching and tenderness in the anus, rectal bleeding or pain during bowel movements.

Oral gonorrhea is usually asymptomatic. When symptoms do occur, they may include a sore and sore throat, swollen lymph nodes in the neck, and a fever.

Symptoms: Sore throat and fever may be symptoms of gonorrhea. Image: Photo.

A sore throat and fever can be symptoms of gonorrhea. Image:

In rare cases, gonorrhea can spread to the eyes. Experts note that many people suffering from gonorrhea have no or mild symptoms. Moreover, they can resemble symptoms of other bacterial infections, which makes diagnosis even more difficult.

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Today, experts from the World Health Organization (WHO) and the CDC recommend using a combination of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea to reduce the risk of resistance developing. However, over time, the effectiveness of these combinations decreases, forcing the medical community to constantly search for new therapeutic strategies.

Gonorrhea is treated with the antibiotic ceftriaxone, the dosage of which depends on the patient's weight. Your healthcare provider may also prescribe additional medications, such as doxycycline, to treat co-infections with chlamydia.

Treatment. The best way to prevent gonorrhea is to use condoms during all sexual activity. Image: BBC. Photo.

The best way to prevent gonorrhea is to use condoms during any sexual activity. Image: BBC

This therapy, however, cannot reverse any damage that the infection may have caused to the body before treatment or protect against future gonorrhea infection. Well, the main way to fight the disease is contraception against STIs. And although gonorrhea is currently curable, the disease is becoming increasingly resistant to antibiotics. Some forms of gonorrhea that have developed high levels of resistance to antibiotics are commonly referred to as «supergonorrhea».

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Antibiotics and superbugs

We have repeatedly talked about the threat of antibiotic-resistant bacteria. And if viruses are constantly evolving, such as the influenza virus or coronavirus, then the situation with bacteria is somewhat different. This is because bacteria infect both people and animals, and the infections caused are treated with antibiotics, to which the bacteria gradually become resistant.

In practice, this state of affairs can lead to an extreme increase in mortality from previously curable and treatable diseases. It has reached the point where antibiotic resistance in a huge number of bacteria has increased to alarmingly high levels throughout the world. One of these bacteria, unfortunately, turned out to be supergonorrhea.

Antibiotics and superbugs. Cases of supergonorrhea (named after a «superbug» — infection for which there is no cure) are increasingly being recorded in China. Image: Photo.

In China, cases of supergonorrhea (so named by analogy with the «superbug» — infection for which there is no cure) are increasingly being recorded.

Note that that bacterial resistance to antibiotics develops through several mechanisms, including changes in the genetic material of the bacterium or changes in the mechanism of action of the antibiotic. Unfortunately such cases are occurring more and more often as a result of mutationsor the acquisition of resistance genes from other bacteria.

You can read more about how microbes slowed by one antibiotic develop resistance to others here

Worldwide, about 700,000 people die every year from all types of antibiotic-resistant infections. This figure is projected to rise to 10 million deaths per year by 2050 unless urgent action is taken to control the spread of these pathogens.

Supergonorrhea epidemic

Well, up to 98% of bacterial samples taken from STD patients in 13 provinces in China are resistant to first-line antibiotics, according to a new CDC report. What worries researchers most is the level of incidence in the Middle Kingdom of a new strain of gonorrhea, which is 40 times more resistant to antibiotics than in the USA, Canada and the UK.

The work began in 2022, when scientists associated with the American CDC in China, collected more than 2,800 bacterial samples from patients with gonorrhea. More than 97% of samples were resistant to the drug ciprofloxacin, while 78% of cases were resistant to treatment with penicillin (another widely used antibiotic).

Super gonorrhea epidemic. The bacteria that causes gonorrhea have been so successfully defeated by antibiotics that ceftriaxone remains the only recommended treatment. Image: Photo.

The bacteria that cause gonorrhea have been so successful in the fight against antibiotics that ceftriaxone remains the only recommended treatment .

The report said that approximately 17 percent of the samples were resistant to azithromycin and cefixime, while eight percent were refractory to the current standard of care, ceftriaxone. Thus, the percentage of strains of gonorrhea bacteria resistant to ceftriaxone increased from 2.9% to 8.1%, which significantly exceeds the figures recorded in other countries.

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For example, in the UK in 2022, only 0.21% of strains showed reduced susceptibility to ceftriaxone. CDC data shows that in the US between 2016 and 2020, only about 0.2% of strains had higher resistance to ceftriaxone. In Canada, ceftriaxone resistance rates remained relatively stable at around 0.6% from 2017 to 2021.

The findings highlight the urgent need for a comprehensive approach to combating antibiotic-resistant N. gonorrhoeae in China, including identifying factors that contribute to such high levels of resistance, the report's authors said.

According to US media reports in The country is investigating two cases of supergonorrhea identified in Massachusetts. There is no link between the two, but public health officer Margaret Cook said the strain poses a«serious public health problem».
Interestingly, the first case of ceftriaxone-resistant supergonorrhea was reported in Japan in 2009 and only in 2016 in China.

Super gonorrhea epidemic. Biologist Baranova called on Russians to be careful due to the emergence of “super gonorrhea”. Image: Photo.

Biologist Baranova called on Russians to be careful due to the emergence of “supergonorrhea.” Image:

Doctors in the UK, meanwhile, say a new strain of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea has not yet spread in the country, but it appears to be a matter of time. According to the National Health Service, STIs are «easy» transmitted from person to person through unprotected sex or through sharing sex toys.

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In Russia, fortunately, no such cases have been identified, but Russians planning a trip to Asian countries should be wary of the new “super gonorrhea” raging in the region. This was reported by Lenta.ra after a conversation with Ancha Baranova, Doctor of Biological Sciences, Professor at the School of Systems Biology at George Mason University (Virginia, USA).

What's next?

The authors of a new CDC report urge public health experts around the world to prioritize evaluating screening methods, especially in regions with higher rates of gonorrhea incidence and resistance.

Understanding factors that may contribute to the spread of resistance, such as inappropriate antimicrobial use, is also critical to guiding preventive efforts, the researchers write.

We note that collaborative efforts and ongoing surveillance of the international spread of resistant strains are vital to the global response. International cooperation and information sharing are critical to prevent the further spread of resistant strains and identify alternative treatment options for gonorrhea.

What's next? Antibiotic resistance can occur when bacteria mutate over time. Overuse of antibiotics speeds up this process. Image: Photo.Image:

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Well and key strategies to combat the spread of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea include public education to increase awareness of the need for protection, improved diagnostics, the development of new antibiotics and vaccines, and the establishment of global and regional programs to control antibiotic resistance.