The overuse of antibiotics to treat the coronavirus, particularly azithromyacin, may be contributing to a new strain of antibiotic-resistant Gonorrhea, a sexually transmitted disease millions of people around the world contract every year.
Early in the pandemic, azithromyacin was commonly prescribed to coroanvirus patients along with hydroxychloroquine. The drug cocktail was thought to be more effective when both were used together, but later studies did not bear out these results.
Now, health experts with the World Health Organization (WHO) are warning that an increase in drug-resistant gonorrhea may already be occurring due to too many people taking unnecessary antibiotics during their coronavirus infections.
WHO warning against using antibiotics with viral infection
A WHO spokesperson warned, “Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhoea. Azithromycin – a common antibiotic for treating respiratory infections – was used for Covid-19 treatment earlier in the epidemic.”
“During the pandemic,” he continued, “STI services have also been disrupted. This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result.”
“Such a situation can fuel emergence of resistance in gonorrhea including gonorrhea superbug (super gonorrhoea) or gonorrhoea with high level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it,” he concluded.
There are currently 90 million cases of gonorrhea worldwide, and the number is increasing by 17% a year.
Five million cases could be in the U.S. in 10 years, the Sun reported. Untreated, gonorrhea can cause infertility, especially in women. Already, up to 30% of women in developing countries are infertile because of untreated gonorrhea.
Gonorrhea normally treatable
Antibiotics can normally treat gonorrhea and remove the bacteria from the body, but a new strain of the STI does not respond to antibiotics, which puts treatment of the disease in jeopardy.
When antibiotics are used unnecessarily, they kill beneficial bacteria, which allows stronger strains to develop that can’t be cured with antibiotics.
“The bottom line is, antibiotics should not be prescribed unless there’s a clear medical indication for them,” the WHO spokesperson told the Sun.
New treatments are being pursued, but no immediate candidates have emerged yet.