“This is both an alarming and a predictable discovery,” lead researcher Magnus Unemo, professor at the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria in Örebro, Sweden, said in a statement. “Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it.”
This is that latest in a long line of antibiotic resistant bacteria to make an appearance.
Cephalosporin-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae joins methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus and vancomycin-resistant enterococci in a sinister class of bacteria known as superbugs. But unlike hospital-acquired MRSA and VRE, which spread where antibiotic use runs high and immune defenses run low, super gonorrhea could spread anywhere.
“This report points out that antibiotic resistance is occurring not only in hospitals, but out in the community,” said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn. And while the strain was disovered [sic] in Kyoto, Japan, antibiotic-resistant bacteria “don’t need a passport.”
The researchers, however, are quick to point out that they’re not certain if the strain has become widespread or is just a localized phenomenon.