A drug-resistant strain of gonorrhea — now considered a superbug — has some researchers worried the effects could match or even exceed AIDS.
“This might be a lot worse than AIDS in the short run because the bacteria is more aggressive and will affect more people quickly,” Alan Christianson, a doctor of naturopathic medicine, told CNBC.
“Getting gonorrhea from this strain might put someone into septic shock and death in a matter of days,” he said. “This is very dangerous.”
According to CNBC, the strain, HO41, was discovered in Japan two years ago in a female prostitute. The bacteria has since been found in Hawaii, California and Norway.
“It’s an emergency situation,” William Smith, executive director of the National Coalition of STD Directors, told CNBC. “As time moves on, it’s getting more hazardous.”
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that has been known since medieval times. Sometimes known as “the clap,” the infection can result in painful sores and genital discharge, and is associated with ectopic pregnancies and sterility in both men and women. It also raises the risk for HIV because the lesions permit the AIDS-causing virus easier access to the bloodstream.
Nearly 30 million people have died from AIDS related causes worldwide. No deaths from the HO41 strain of gonorrhea have yet been reported.