On June 6, the World Health Organization reported that a new mutant strain of gonorrhea, first identified in Japan, was spreading worldwide. The strain does not appear to respond to conventional treatment by antibiotics.
According to Shukan Jitsuwa (July 5) the first incidence of the new strain was reported at a conference of researchers in Quebec, Canada. Named H041, it was discovered in a specimen taken from the throat of a female worker at a sex shop in Kyoto in 2009.
“The most effective treatment for gonorrhea, the Cephalosporin group of antibiotics, don’t work against H041,” says a medical writer. “Researchers are warning that if infection becomes widespread there won’t be any means of treatment.”
“In males, after a dormant period of from two to nine days, an infected person will feel such symptoms as pain during urination and may excrete pus from the genitals,” Dr. Kiichi Inoue, director of the Setagaya Inoue Hospital, tells the magazine. “But often in the case of females no symptoms will be evident. Nevertheless the infection can spread, causing female sterility. Some men just try to pass it by taking diuretics.”
The original female patient in Kyoto was able to overcome her infection through use of another drug, Azithromycin. But since the discovery, WHO has reported outbreaks in Australia, France, Norway, Sweden and the U.K.
“In the past, penicillin was extremely effective against gonorrhea, and we could cure it with one injection,” says Dr. Inoue. “But treatment-resistance strains appeared and the therapy changed to New Quinolone and now to Cephalosporin. Finding a drugs that work against new strains is like playing whack-a-mole.”
As far as sex shops are concerned, the unpleasant prospect of coming down with a dose of clap appears to be causing more sex workers to walk off the job.
The manager of a Tokyo deri heru (out-call sex) service tells the magazine that as news of the H041 strain have spread, his female workers have been quitting in droves.
“The rumor’s been floating around that the strain is spreading in Tokyo and that some women have come down with it,” he says. “Actually STDs are a taboo subject around here. Of course when girls start work here they do ask me questions about it, but we are a responsible shop and all our girls get tested once a month…”
The aforementioned medical writer noted that some researchers believe the new treatment-resistant strain may have been created by “genetic modification” as a result of performing oral sex, when ordinary gonococcus germs interacted with the various bacteria present in the mouth and throat. (K.S.)
Source: “Koseibusshitsu ga kikanai shin-gata rinbyo de fuzokukai panikku sunzen,” Shukan Jitsuwa (May 5, page 18)