A new “super bug” of gonorrhea has been discovered in Japan that is resistant to all available antibiotics, a development that is both alarming and predictable, researchers said Monday.
The super bug, dubbed H041, has evolved to outwit cephalosporins, the last class of antibiotics generally effective against gonorrhea. The new bug has not yet been reported in the United States.
“Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it,” Dr. Magnus Unemo, of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, said in a statement.
The discovery was announced at the 19th conference for the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research in Quebec City, Canada.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly sounded alarms about the increasing difficulty of successfully treating gonococcal infections with available antibiotics and announced the need to monitor antibiotic resistance and develop new treatment regimes.
While H041 is thought to be the first sexually transmitted bacteria to be resistant to antibiotics, it joins bacterial infections such as MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus) and VRE (vancomycin-resistant enterococci), which have also evolved similar resistance.