uesday, 30 Apr 2013 | 2:45 PM ET
By: Mark Koba
Senior Editor, CNBC
An antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea—now considered a superbug—has some analysts saying that the bacteria’s effects could match those of AIDS.
“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” said Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine.
“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” Christianson said. “This is very dangerous.”
“It’s an emergency situation,” said William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors. “As time moves on, it’s getting more and more dangerous.”
This gonorrhea strain, HO41, was discovered in Japan two years ago in a 31-year-old female sex worker who had been screened in 2009. The bacteria has since been found in Hawaii, California and Norway.
Because it resists current antibiotic treatment, the strain has been placed in the superbug category with other resistant bacteria, such as MRSA and CRE. These superbugs kill about half the people they attack, and nearly one in 20 hospital patients become infected with one, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Though no deaths from HO41 have been reported, efforts to combat it must continue, Smith said.
“We have to keep beating the drum on this,” he said. “The potential for disaster is great.”
According to the CDC, about 20 million a year contract a sexually transmitted disease (STD) and result in about $16 billion in medical costs. More than 800,000 of STD cases reported are gonorrhea infections, with most occurring in people between the ages of 15 and 24.
Gonorrhea is transmitted through unprotected sexual contact. Untreated, the disease can cause a number of health complications in women, including infertility. In men, the disease can be very painful and lead to sterility. It can also trigger other life-threatening illnesses, including heart infections.
Continue reading at Sex Superbug Could Be ‘Worse Than AIDS’.