The antibiotics we have to treat it in the United States, researchers warn are slowly becoming obsolete. Years ago we would have been very confident that a pill or shot would cure us. Those days are dwindling it appears according to new CDC reports.

In 2009, nearly a quarter of strains tested in a nationwide surveillance project of gonorrhea were resistant to penicillin, tetracycline, fluoroquinolones, or a combination of these antibiotics that are typically used to treat the STD. And early data from 2010 indicate resistance to another type of antibiotic, cephalosporin, is emerging. That’s concerning because cephalosporins are the only class of antibiotic left that doctors recommend to treat the disease.

If resistance to cephalosporins develops, gonorrhea could develop into a superbug, and have a catastrophic effect on our ability to control the disease in the country, researchers say. A superbug is a strain of bacteria that has become resistant to antibiotics and is very difficult to kill. Other examples of superbugs include methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA ) and some strains of tuberculosis.

Experts are working on strategies to prevent antibiotic resistance, including treating the disease with several antibiotics at once. They also advocate protected sex and STD screening as ways to reduce the acquisition of gonorrhea.

More than 301,174 cases of gonorrhea were reported to the CDC in 2009, though the agency estimates more than 700,000 people become infected with the disease each year in the United States. It is the second most common infectious disease that is required to be reported to the U.S. government.

For further information in diseases building immunity visit the Center for Disease Control website.

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