The UK has achieved an unenviable world first with news that a British man has been diagnosed with a strain of gonorrhoea so far resistant to all antibiotics normally used to treat the disease. The sexually transmitted bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae, identified almost 140 years ago, causes unpleasant symptoms and, often, acute embarrassment – but it is an infection we’ve become accustomed to being easily curable with a simple course of that miracle of modern medicine: antibiotics. However, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) published a list, last year, of the dozen deadliest superbugs the world is struggling to control, gonorrhoea was among their highest priorities. In the UK and other high-income nations, we are starting to see occasional cases of hard-to-treat strains, but in many low- and middle-income countries, it is a grave problem and a rapidly rising health burden. If left untreated, the disease can cause serious and long-term health problems. This man’s so far untreatable case of gonorrhoea may be a first, but it’s an inevitable development in a wider crisis, where common infections have become progressively harder to treat. Almost two years ago, in May 2016, an independent review led by Jim O’Neill – of which I… Read full this story
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