Yes, there is a new sex superbug posing major health dangers around the world.
The antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea joins other life threatening diseases like Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRS) , but don't compare it to other diseases such as AIDS. If you do, especially in the media, will most likely land you in hot water.
At least that's what happened when naturopathic doctor Alan Christianson who was quoted in a recent CNBC article about the new Sex Superbug Dangers with the headline "Sex Superbug Could Be 'Worse Than Aids'".
Christianson was quoted by CNBC as saying an antibiotic-resistant strain of sexually transmitted gonorrhea (caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhea and spread through sexual activity), might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly."
Dr. Bruce Hirsch, an attending physician in infections diseases at North Short University in Manhasset, N.Y. responded with a quote in the Huffington Post saying "I disagree with the general comparison" of the antibiotic resistant strain of gonorrhea to AIDS.
Hirsch noted "The rate of complications from gonorrhea in terms of systemic problems is so much lower than the rate of complications from untreated AIDS infection" and the new Gonorrhea superbug, in the opinion of Dr. Hirsch, should not be compared to AIDS.
Comparing Gonorrhea To AIDS May In Fact Be A Good Thing
If comparing the new antibiotic resistant strain of gonorrhea to AIDS makes people stop and pay attention, maybe the comparison is valid, but for different reasons. In a world where people consistently filter out any information they deem unrelated, many people require drastic headlines to get their attention.
Is comparing the new sex superbug to AIDS comparing apples to oranges? Maybe. But if it makes people more aware of this rapidly developing danger, it could be a good thing.
Since gonorrhea can be avoided with proper safe sex methods, sexually active people who are aware of the new resistant strain may be more motivated to take preventive measures.
Antibiotic Resistant Diseases Are A Real And Growing Problem
Antibiotic resistant diseases are a very real and serious problem. Unfortunately they are not isolated to a few obscure bacteria. The reality? Antibiotic-resistant infections cause more deaths each year than AIDS and cost the American health care system more than $20 billion dollars a year.
Listed below are some of the most common resistant bacteria to antibiotics:
1. Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) - A true superbug which has captured worldwide headlines. MRSA can be extremely difficult to treat, it can easily progress from a superficial skin infection to a life-threatening infection in bones, joints, bloodstream, heart valves, lungs, or surgical wounds. Originally found primarily in hospital or health care settings, it can now be found in workplaces and private homes.
2. Vancomycin-resistant enterococci (VRE) & Vancomycin-Intermediate/Resistant Staphylococcus aureus (VISA/VRSA) - Infections involving the enteroccocci and related bacteria. Often occurring in hospitals the bacteria is resistant to the vancomycin antibiotic.
3. Streptococcus pneumoniae - A leading cause of pneumonia, bacteremia, sinusitis, and acute otitis media (AOM).
4. Group B streptococcus: A common bacteria in newborns, the elderly and adults with other illnesses.
5. Klebsiella pneumonia - A bacteria which can lead to pneumonia, bloodstream infections, wound and surgical site infections and meningitis.
6. Shigella: An infectious disease caused by Shigella bacteria.
7. Neisseria meningitides - One of the leading causes of bacterial meningitis in children and young adults.
8. Tuberculosis (TB) - Both "multi-drug resistant" and "extensively drug-resistant" forms of TB are now occurring and being documented.
9. Typhoid fever - A life-threatening illness caused by the Salmonella Typhi bacteria and becoming resistant to antibiotics historically used to treat it.
Sex Superbug History
Although the antibiotic strain of gonorrhea has recently been in the news, it's not a new concern. Health experts were aware of the sex superbug dangers as far back as 2010.
In 2011 there were more than 300,000 cases of gonorrhea reported to the Centers For Disease Control (CDC). Because many people who contract the disease show no obvious symptoms, the number of actual cases is thought to have been much higher than what was reported. Since the disease is often symptom free, may people never seek diagnosis or treatment.
Left untreated gonorrhea can lead to very serious complications including infertility, severe and chronic pelvic pain for women and painful inflammation of the testicles in men.
Summary - New Sex Superbug Dangers
Recently there was a major threat to the White House through anthrax. This deadly bacteria is also known to be resistant to antibiotics. it can be spread by infected animals, or in the case of the White House, through bio-terrorist weapons.
Is there in fact a new sex superbug gathering strength? Absolutely. Will it be as deadly as untreated AIDS? Maybe not. Should it be compared to AIDS? Maybe not from the perspective of how differently the two diseases are currently treated and handled.However, both diseases - AIDS and gonorrhea - have a strong infection rate tied to sexual interaction with infected partners. If utilizing AIDS as a way to trigger awareness of the growing danger of anti-resistant gonorrhea motivates sexually active people to be more cautious, how can that be a bad thing?