KHQ MD ALERT: No 'Sex Superbug' In The United States, Despite Re - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

KHQ MD ALERT: No 'Sex Superbug' In The United States, Despite Reports

Posted: Updated:

NBC.COM - Reports of a new "sex superbug" threatening the U.S. aren't true, public health officials say, even as they reiterate worries about the rise of drug-resistant gonorrhea.

"The sky is not falling -- yet," said Dr. Kimberly Workowski, a professor of infectious disease at Emory University in Atlanta.

Several media outlets, including The Associated Press, last week reported that a rare strain of gonorrhea known as HO41 had been detected in Hawaii. That would have raised alarms nationwide, signaling the first domestic sign of a strain that's been found to be resistant to ceftriaxone, an injectable antibiotic that is the last-resort treatment for the sexually transmitted infection.

But the Hawaii cases, first discovered in May 2011, were actually a different strain, H11S8, resistant to a different drug, the antibiotic azithromycin, state health officials confirmed. That's been a known problem for a while, Workowski added. The AP later withdrew the inaccurate report.

In fact, the HO41 strain hasn't been detected anywhere in the world since 2009, when it was found in a Japanese sex worker, said Dr. Robert Kirkcaldy, a medical epidemiologist with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  A handful of other cases that are resistant to ceftriaxone have been detected in other countries, but they're different isolates, he added.

The false reports have put public health experts in the unusual position of refuting an error while also emphasizing that the threat of untreatable gonorrhea in the U.S. is very real.

"We think that that could be just a matter of a year or two," said William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors.

Nearly 322,000 cases of gonorrhea were reported in the U.S. in 2011, making it again the second most commonly reported notifiable infection in the nation. Sufferers often show no signs, so the actual number of infections is likely closer to 700,000, according to the CDC.

For decades, gonorrhea was easy to treat with a single dose of antibiotics. But the germ is wily and easily mutable. It developed resistance to successive classes of drugs over the years until the cephalosporins, the current treatment, were all that's left.

In recent years, though, there have been worrisome signs that the bug is starting to outsmart those drugs, too. Last year, the CDC stopped recommending the oral antibiotic cefixime to treat gonorrhea after surveillance showed it was on the verge of resistance. Now, the recommended treatment is the injectable ceftriaxone along with two other antibiotics, azithromycin or doxycycline.

"The point was to actually preserve the last remaining drug we know is effective," said Workowski.

The NCSD, led by Smith, has asked Congress for $54 million in emergency appropriations to help bolster the US public health infrastructure that monitors, diagnoses and treats gonorrhea.

"Untreated gonorrhea is a disaster for public health and HIV prevention," Smith said.

The best prevention against gonorrhea is monogamous sex between uninfected partners, Kirkcaldy said. Diligent use of condoms can also avoid infection, he added.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Throwback Thursday! Look At 'Sunshine Shelly' Through The Years!

    Thursday, March 20 2014 1:04 PM EDT2014-03-20 17:04:11 GMT
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
    KHQ.COM - It's throwback Thursday! Here is a slideshow we would like to share of Shelly Monahan through the years! For those of you who have been in Spokane for many years, and saw her through her "Sunshine Shelly" days, you will probably remember the Shelly from back in those days. Enjoy!>>
  • VIRAL VIDEO: Holy Moly! This girl is definitely NOT afraid of spiders!

    VIRAL VIDEO: Holy Moly! This girl is definitely NOT afraid of spiders!

    Monday, September 1 2014 12:00 PM EDT2014-09-01 16:00:12 GMT
    KHQ.COM - You don't even know what this girl is about to do to prove she is definitely NOT afraid of spiders! Is she crazy or just fearless? Would you do this for $500? $1,000? $20,000? >>>WATCH>>>>>
    KHQ.COM - You don't even know what this girl is about to do to prove she is definitely NOT afraid of spiders! Is she crazy or just fearless? Would you do this for $500? $1,000? $20,000? >>>WATCH>>>>>
  • Barista-stand owner faces prostitution charge

    Barista-stand owner faces prostitution charge

    Monday, September 1 2014 10:10 AM EDT2014-09-01 14:10:27 GMT
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.>>
    EVERETT, Wash. (AP) - Authorities say the owner of bikini coffee stands in Washington state banked more than $2 million in just three years because her baristas were also selling sex acts. Snohomish County prosecutors charged 52-year-old former nude dancer Carmela Panico with promoting prostitution and money laundering, alleging that she was the madam of drive-thru brothels throughout the county north of Seattle.
    >>
  • Top Stories from KHQTop StoriesMore>>

  • BREAKING: One person dead after hit & run in Spokane Valley

    BREAKING: One person dead after hit & run in Spokane Valley

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 6:03 AM EDT2014-09-02 10:03:43 GMT
    One person is dead after a hit and run near I-90 Park Rd. in Spokane Valley. It happened around 1:30 am.>>
    One person is dead after a hit and run near I-90 Park Rd. in Spokane Valley. It happened around 1:30 am.
    >>
  • Police search for armed robbery suspect

    Police search for armed robbery suspect

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 3:23 AM EDT2014-09-02 07:23:19 GMT
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A man walked into a Zip Trip gas station brandishing a hand gun and stole cash Monday night, according to Spokane Police.The robbery happened at about 10:30 p.m. at the Zip Trip on East Illinois Avenue, just north of where Perry Street intersects with Illinois. Spokane Police say the man walked in and showed employees the handgun. >>
    SPOKANE, Wash. - A man walked into a Zip Trip gas station brandishing a hand gun and stole cash Monday night, according to Spokane Police.The robbery happened at about 10:30 p.m. at the Zip Trip on East Illinois Avenue, just north of where Perry Street intersects with Illinois. Spokane Police say the man walked in and showed employees the handgun. >>
  • Wildfire Victim Searches For Strength To Rebuild

    Wildfire Victim Searches For Strength To Rebuild

    Tuesday, September 2 2014 12:28 AM EDT2014-09-02 04:28:11 GMT
    ALTA LAKE, Wash. - "John Neuneker Sr. built almost everything on his property with his own two hands, including the home in which he and his wife Laurie raised their four children.“It was a family thing,” Neuneker told KHQ. “Not just my wife. My kids, all of us chipped in. We built the whole thing ourselves.” Their log cabin was one of many things Neuneker lost in the Carlton Complex Fire.>>
    ALTA LAKE, Wash. - "John Neuneker Sr. built almost everything on his property with his own two hands, including the home in which he and his wife Laurie raised their four children.“It was a family thing,” Neuneker told KHQ. “Not just my wife. My kids, all of us chipped in. We built the whole thing ourselves.” Their log cabin was one of many things Neuneker lost in the Carlton Complex Fire.>>