Published On: Tue, Jul 11th, 2017

Oral sex blamed for spread of “unstoppable” gonorrhea

gonorrhoeaGENEVA - The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that oral sex is producing dangerous gonorrhea and a decline in condom use is helping it to spread.

The international health body says that the sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming antibiotic-resistant, making it much harder, or impossible, to treat.

With few new drugs on the horizon, experts say the situation is “fairly grim.”

Around 78 million people contract gonorrhea annually, and it can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease, and can be passed on to a foetus during pregnancy.

Caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea, the STI is spread by unprotected oral, vaginal, and anal sex.

Symptoms can include a thick green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain when urinating and bleeding in women between menstrual periods.

The WHO analysed data from 77 countries which confirmed that gonorrhea’s resistance to antibiotics was widespread.

The organization’s Dr Teodora Wi said there had been cases in Japan, France and Spain where the infection was completely untreatable.

“Gonorrhea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhea, the bug becomes resistant,” Dr Wi said.

Worse, the majority of gonorrhea infections are in poor countries where resistance is harder to detect.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg,” added Wi.

Gonorrhea can infect the genitals, rectum and throat, but it is the last that is most concerning health officials.

According to Dr Wi, antibiotics could lead to bacteria in the back of the throat, including relatives of gonorrhea, developing resistance.

“When you use antibiotics to treat infections like a normal sore throat, this mixes with the Neisseria species in your throat and this results in resistance,” she explained.

And thrusting gonorrhea bacteria into this environment through oral sex can lead to super-gonorrhea.

The WHO is calling on countries to monitor the spread of resistant gonorrhea and to invest in new drugs.

Ultimately, vaccines will be needed to stop gonorrhea, the WHO said.

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