New Sex Superbug In Hawaii: Why Is Gonorrhea H041 Said To Be More Dangerous Than AIDS?

By iScienceTimes Staff on May 6, 2013 2:27 PM EDT

Gonorrhea
Health officials warn that a new sex superbug might be deadlier than AIDS. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Health officials are sounding the alarm over H041, a new sex superbug that might be deadlier than AIDS.

The new strain of gonorrhea was first discovered in Japan in 2011, and United States health officials now say there have been two cases of H041 in Hawaii. Since the gonorrhea strain is resistant to antibiotics, H041 is considered a superbug.

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"This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly," said Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine. "Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days."

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that can result in genital discharge and sores, and if left untreated can lead to blood stream infection and infertility. Since the 1940s, gonorrhea has been treated with penicillin and antibiotic cures, and medical science has been able to keep up with changing strains in the crafty and mutating STD.

But that is not the case with H041, and health officials say it couldn't come at a worse time.

Gonorrhea has been on the rise in the United States, with some areas of the country seeing rates recently climb as much as 74 percent. These spikes in gonorrhea rates, combined with untreatable and deadly strains of the disease such as H041, may lead to a medical nightmare unless new antibiotics are created soon. Cephalosporin, the latest antibiotic for use in combating gonorrhea, has been failing recently, leading one British gonorrhea expert to warn that gonorrhea may become "untreatable."

According to Dr. Arjun Srinivasan, from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, "We're running out of many of the oral treatment options that we have been able to use." Srinivasan added that, "people might need intravenous therapy for treatment of simple gonorrhea infections that in the past could have been treated with an oral antibiotic. This is now being seen in the United States."

The CDC has lobbied Congress for $50 million to find a new antibiotic to treat H041.

"It's an emergency situation," said William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. "As time moves on, it's getting more hazardous."

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