Nearly Untreatable Gonorrhea Spreading Globally

by MAGGIE FOX for NBC News

"Drug-resistant gonorrhea is becoming more common, making a once easily treated infection into a nightmare disease, the World Health Organization said Friday. 

Gonorrhea, known commonly as "the clap" or "the drip," is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases there is. Anyone who is sexually active is at risk and any kind of sex, including anal and oral sex, can pass it along. 

3D computer-generated image of a number of drug-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae diplococcal bacteria. CDC/James Archer / U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Medical Illustrator

It was once easily treated with a quick dose of antibiotics. But, like all bacterial infections, strains have evolved that can evade the mechanisms used by antibiotics and now WHO says they are becoming increasingly common. 

“The bacteria that cause gonorrhea are particularly smart. Every time we use a new class of antibiotics to treat the infection, the bacteria evolve to resist them,” said WHO’s Dr. Teodora Wi. 

Penicillin was the original, simple cure. Now, WHO reports, 97 percent of countries report gonorrhea that resists ciprofloxacin, 81 percent have found cases that resist azithromycin and two-thirds of countries have found strains that resist the last-resort drugs: extended-spectrum cephalosporins such as oral cefixime or injectable ceftriaxone...."