In 2008, Japanese scientists announced they had found a strain of gonorrhea that resists all antibiotics, and the "superbug" could become an international medical threat. Reuters reports that the World Health Organization (WHO) has declared that the sexually transmitted disease strain is indeed spreading and has been found in patients in Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and Britain.
"Gonorrhoea is becoming a major public health challenge," said Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, from the WHO's department of reproductive health and research. She said more than 106 million people are newly infected with the disease every year.
"The organism is what we term a superbug - it has developed resistance to virtually every class of antibiotics that exists," she told a briefing in Geneva. "If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant."
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial sexually transmitted infection which, if left untreated, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy, stillbirths, severe eye infections in babies, and infertility in both men and women.
It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world and is most prevalent in south and southeast Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. In the United States alone, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of cases is estimated at around 700,000 a year.
Read more at Reuters.