July 8, 2011

WELL, THAT’S NO FUN FOR ANYBODY: The spread of effectively untreatable gonorrhea? “The potential emergence of gonococcal cephalosporin resistance is of particular concern because the U.S. gonorrhea control strategy relies upon effective antibiotic therapy. Previously, the emergence and spread of gonococcal antibiotic resistance in the United States was addressed by changing the recommended antibiotics for treatment. No other well-studied and effective antibiotic treatment options or combinations currently are available. The emergence of gonococcal cephalosporin resistance would substantially limit available treatment options.”

A public-health reader adds: “It is going to take much greater cooperation from our patients for us to come up even against this, let alone kill it off. Right now it is early enough. 3-5 years from now? I don’t know.”

Well, the public health community should be focusing on this, instead of wasting its time on promoting gun control and other faddish efforts that undermine the public trust needed to fight infectious disease as well as waste time and energy on unproductive topics.

UPDATE: Reader Robert Gleason writes: “The test of ‘unproductive topics’ is how much money they attract or what political narrative they support. I don’t think untreatable gonorrhea attracts that much money. Gun control: yes. National health care: yes. Untreatable gonorrhea: no.”

Given the predilections of our political class, you’d think this would be a higher priority for them.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Reader Harmon Ward writes:

This post brought back memories. I asked my father, the doctor, about “the good old days.” He put down his coffee and cigarette, looked up from the newspaper and said, “Before penicillin there were no Good Old Days”. He also predicted that someday an untreatable stain of gonorrhea would arise. We used to have a lot of deep discussions about the laws and infection control. In the age before penicillin many STDs were untreatable. When someone was diagnosed the doctor asked them for a list of people they had been sleeping with so they could be informed that they had to be tested. The infected were informed that they had to stop spreading the disease. As un-politically correct as this may sound, the program greatly reduced the rate of infection. The politicians would flip over such a program today, but how do you stop a disease that has no cure? There are few options besides avoiding infection in the first place.

Thanks for focusing on some of the serious stuff. God knows most of our politicians aren’t.

Before penicillin, there were no good old days. True enough. As for the politicians, well . . . .

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