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Gonorrhea Makes Unwelcome Return

It's back. And it's bad. Researchers have identified a new strain of gonorrhea resistant to all available antibiotics.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports the newly identified strain of the sexually transmitted infection -- named H041 -- is resistant to the last remaining drugs that treat gonorrhea, known as cephalosporin-class antibiotics.

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can be transmitted through sex with an infected person. If left untreated, the disease can cause other problems, including sterility and a greater susceptibility to HIV/AIDS . According to the CDC, in the United States alone, the number of cases is estimated at 700,000 annually.

"This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery," says Dr. Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria. "This bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it."

He adds, "While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, the history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programs are developed."

Gonorrhea is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world.

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