The World Health Organization has warned that gonorrhea, a common sexually transmitted disease, has become harder and sometimes even impossible to treat.
Neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes the STD, is so smart it evolves to develop resistance against the antibiotics used to treat infection.
WHO said that decreasing use of condom, poor infection detection rates, urbanization and travel, as well as inadequate or failed treatments all contribute to the rising cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea.
"WHO reports widespread resistance to older and cheaper antibiotics. Some countries — particularly high-income ones, where surveillance is best — are finding cases of the infection that are untreatable by all known antibiotics," WHO said in a statement.
Oral Sex Helps Spread Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea
WHO experts said that oral sex is driving the spread of super-gonorrhea. In the United States, about two-thirds of those between 15 and 24 years old have had oral sex.
Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said that when antibiotics are used to treat infections of the throat such as normal sore throat, these get mixed with the Neisseria species in the throat, which can lead to resistance.
What makes matters more worrying is that many people with gonorrhea in the throat are not aware they are infected and are more likely to transmit the infection via oral sex.
"In the US, resistance [to an antibiotic] came from men having sex with men because of pharyngeal infection," Wi said.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says that any sexually active person can get infected with gonorrhea through unprotected vaginal, anal or oral sex. Experts recommend the use of condom during sexual contact.
People with multiple sex partners are particularly at risk of getting infected with STDs so health experts urge for long-term and mutually monogamous relationships. People with high-risk partners such as gonorrhea-infected sex partners, or those who have other partners, have higher risk for infection.
"If you are a sexually active man who is gay, bisexual, or who has sex with men, you should be tested for gonorrhea every year," the CDC said. "If you are a sexually active woman younger than 25 years or an older woman with risk factors such as new or multiple sex partners, or a sex partner who has a sexually transmitted infection, you should be tested for gonorrhea every year."
Gonorrhea In The United States
As of 2015, Louisiana has the highest reported rate of gonorrhea in the United States with 221.1 cases for every 100,000 population. It is followed by North Carolina with 199.2 for every 100,000 population, and Mississippi with 192.9 cases for every 100,000 individuals.