Of all the things that could be isolated in a sex trade worker in Japan—hidden talents, crazy stories—it would just have to go and be a hyper-resistant strain of gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea is usually easily treated with antibiotics but the recently discovered superbug strain is resistant to such medication. Magnus Unemo, the Swedish researcher who isolated the strain, known as H041, calls it “really worrying from a public health perspective,” in an interview with Postmedia News. Neisseria gonorrhea is a “smart bacteria,” with the ability to adapt every 10 to 15 years and become resistant to drug therapies. Just three days ago the Toronto Star reported on growing concern about gonorrhea becoming resistant to cephalosporin, the drug of choice to currently treat it and the “fifth class of antibiotic to be used since the 1930s.” The Star also details a report by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control looking at ten years worth of gonorrhea samples and says that development of a vaccine is underway.
“Untreated, gonorrhea can lead to severe life-threatening complications if it spreads to the blood and joints, in both men and women,” the Postmedia News’ Charlie Finkelman reports. The AFP gets a little more detailed: the common “clap,” it says, “if left alone can cause infertility in women and painful urination and a pus-oozing infection in men.”
Keep in mind that the strain has so far been found in just one Japanese sex worker. Unemo’s team will present their studies at the International Conference on Sexually Transmitted Diseases which is taking place in Quebec City through July 13.