The overuse of antibiotics in the wake of COVID-19 pandemic has led to a rise in cases of 'super gonorrhea' which may even become incurable.
Gonorrhea is a bacterial condition caused by a sexually transmitted bacterium that affects both males and females. Health experts fear that excessive use of antibiotics may make this infection "untreatable."
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), super gonorrhea may become drug-resistant, including resistance to recommended treatments such as azithromycin, which has seen an increase in its usage during the coronavirus pandemic.
"These are extensively drug-resistant gonorrhea with high-level resistance to the current recommended treatment for gonorrhea (ceftriaxone and azithromycin) including resistance to penicillin, sulphonamides, tetracycline, fluoroquinolones, macrolides," said Dr. Teodora Wi, WHO Medical Officer.
"Gonorrhea "superbug" had been reported by several countries, including France, Japan and Spain, and this year also in the UK and Australia," he added.
New cures for gonorrhea are urgently needed as people who are infected with it "will infect others and accelerate microbial resistance," said Kevin Cox, executive chairman of the Britain-based startup Biotaspheric Limited.
Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said gonorrhea cases have increased by 63% since 2014. It cautioned that this might "facilitate the transmission of the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV)."
In Europe, the UK has the highest gonorrhea rate and there are likely to be more than 420,000 new cases annually by 2030.