The World Health Organization is warning that a new strain of gonorrhoea, a formerly curable sexually-transmitted disease, has appeared and is resistant to the strongest form of antibiotics used to fight to infection. Some 88 million cases of gonorrhorea are reported each year around the world, according to the WHO.
The disease is spreading to numerous countries around the world, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the United Nations health agency.
Last year scientists discovered the first “superbug” strain of the disease in Japan; the infection was resistant to all forms of standard recommended antibiotics.
At that time, the WHO warned the disease could be transformed from an easily-treated infection into a major global health threat.
Effective this week, those fears have become a reality, said the WHO, although not in Israel, where no such cases have been reported.
Cases of the type of gonorrhoea that are resistant to cephalosporin antibiotics – usually considered the last and strongest medication used to fight the infection – have been reported in Australia, Britain, France, Norway and Sweden.
"Gonorrhoea is becoming a major public health challenge,” said Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan of the WHO department of reproductive health and research, which has produced a fact sheet on the issue.
"We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option – the class of cephalosporin antibiotics. If gonococcal infections become untreatable, the health implications are significant.”