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Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea STD Superbug H041 Found in Japan

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The term "superbug" was coined a few years ago to refer to bacterial infections that are resistant to antibiotics. In Japan, a superbug strain of the gonorrhea STD, labeled H041 has been discovered. There is no known cure for it.

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection of the genus neisseria. Gonorrhea, originally called a venereal disease, is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases. It can be spread by contact with the mouth, anus, vagina and penis, and so from any type of sex. Those most at risk for gonorrhea are people who:

* have sex with multiple partners

* have sex without a condom

* have sex with a partner who has had an STD

* have a drug addiction

Symptoms appear within two to five days for women, but may take up to a month to show up in men (hence the quick transmission). Symptoms for both genders include: painful urination, discharge, redness or swelling in the genital area, painful intercourse and sore throat. Women with gonorrhea may have abdominal pain and fever.

If you have symptoms of an STD, don't wait. See your physician immediately. There is antibiotic treatment available for most STD infections. As with any infection and illness, early detection means treatment has better chance of success.

Viral infections don't typically respond to antibiotics, only bacterial infections do. The difference with the H041 superbug gonorrhea is that it has developed an immunity to antibiotics. Sometimes this is because certain antibiotics have been overused or inappropriately prescribed. The most common reason is that the superbug is simply too virulent and tenacious for any antibiotic available.

The first bacterial infection to be labeled called a superbug was MRSA (methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus). MRSA was first diagnosed as an antibiotic resistant infection about six years ago. It is primarily a skin infection. To combat the spread of bacteria, many public buildings installed hand sanitizer dispensers. Schools, hospitals, offices, government buildings and even some entertainment venues now have hand sanitizer available.

Unfortunately, hand sanitizers were proven ineffective against the superbug. The FDA warned that use of products, like waterless gels and soaps, would not prevent the spread of MRSA. The overuse of sanitizers, which are primarily alcohol-based, can lead to increased skin problems, and a general weakening of immunity against disease. It's important with any bug, especially a superbug, not to rely on band-aid measures to prevent the spread of infection.

Thus far, H041 has only shown up in Japan. As with any superbug, however, the chance of spreading to other parts of the world is greater. Wearing a condom during sex will reduce the spread of most STDs and H041 gonorrhea, but it won't eliminate it. If you are sexually active, get regular health screenings. Having sex with only one partner is the best ways to prevent the spread of disease. Abstinence is the only surefire protection method.

Marilisa Kinney Sachteleben writes from 22 years parenting and 25 years teaching K-8, special needs, adult education and home-school.

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