CDC Warns About Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea
Gonorrhea may soon be untreatable. Federal health officials announced Thursday that the sexually transmitted disease is now resistant to all but one antibiotic—because it's able to mutate quickly to defend itself. "We are sounding the alarm," Gail Bolan, head of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's division of STD prevention, told NPR. "We feel we need to a take a critical step to preserve the last remaining drug we know is effective to treat gonorrhea. We think it's only a matter of time based on the history of this organism until resistance does develop." Gonorrhea affects about 700,000 Americans each year; if untreated, it can lead to infertility and potentially fatal ectopic pregnancies. It's already untreatable in parts of Asia and Europe.
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Beyond Gonorrhea: Drug-Resistant Bugs Pose Growing Danger
When it comes to sexually transmitted diseases, gonorrhea has long gone in the category of: Well, at least it's curable. Until now.
The disease, which infects 106 million people each year, has increasingly become resistant to antibiotics, with cases now being reported of immunity to the last line of antibiotics left to cure it, the World Health Organization stated in a recent news release.
But gonorrhea isn't the only bug that's outsmarting antibiotics. For example, certain strains of E. coli, a bacterium commonly linked to food-borne illnesses, have become resistant to common treatments. The World Health Organization has reported that 440,000 cases of multidrug-resistant tuberculosis, a form of TB resistant to two key drug treatments, develop each year and cause at least 150,000 deaths. A rarer and more resistant TB strain, called extensively drug-resistant TB, has been found in 64 countries, according to the WHO, which notes the capacity of bugs to spread across the globe.
Transmission of E.coli can occur through something as ordinary as a handshake; TB can spread by a simple cough.
The WHO blames the misuse of antimicrobial medicines like antibiotics, antivirals, and antimalarials for the formation of new types of bacteria, viruses, and parasites that resist current treatments. Think of it like that Whac-A-Mole arcade game, where you pound back one mole only to find another one pops up through a different hole. At stake is not only the welfare of affected patients, but the entire healthcare system. [Read more: Beyond Gonorrhea: Drug-Resistant Bugs Pose Growing Danger]
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5 Mistakes That Put Your Mouth at Risk for Cavities
More than 1 in 5 Americans has untreated cavities, finds a recent report from the National Center for Health Statistics, part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). And candy-loving kids aren't the only ones suffering: People ages 20 to 44 have the highest rate of cavities, compared to the younger set. So what are we doing wrong? Quite a bit. Besides working on the obvious—brushing and flossing twice a day and visiting your dentist regularly—you should make changes in these five areas.
1. Mistake: You exclusively drink bottled water. Yeah, we know. You thought your plastic habit was super healthy. And it's way better than having sugary and acidic drinks. But if your community has a fluoridated water supply and you never drink from it, you could be doing yourself a disservice, says David Dowsett, a family dentist based in Portland, Ore. That's because fluoride, a mineral that can prevent and even reverse tooth decay, may not be found in all bottled water, or bottled water may contain only miniscule amounts, according to the CDC. That said, 73.9 percent of the current U.S. population has access to regular water that has enough fluoride to protect teeth. "Fluoride is not just for kids," says R. H. Price, a dentist and American Dental Association (ADA) spokesperson in Newton, Mass., so make sure your toothpaste also contains fluoride. Then try tap water: You may like it. [Read more: 5 Mistakes That Put Your Mouth at Risk for Cavities]
Angela Haupt is a health reporter for U.S. News & World Report. You can follow her on Twitter or reach her at email@example.com.