Stopping the super bug; Improving STI treatment is a necessity
Posted on Jun 26, 2012 in Opinion
With the discovery of penicillin, antibiotic development in modern medicine has meant death for billions of bacteria worldwide. In classic Darwinian form, bacteria exposed to an antibiotic regimen die by scores, leaving a small amount of buildup for the body to eliminate. The effectiveness of these miraculous medicines fuels the very bugs they are meant to eliminate from the sick.
However, the job is often not complete. Despite the deadly medicine, some bacteria survive because they have mutations in their genome. These mutations help cancel out the effects of the antibiotic. Once the onslaught of antibiotics has passed, the surviving organisms seize the opportunity to multiply and grow in number, replacing their weaker, fallen brethren with a more resistant comrade.
It is these kinds of bacteria that are of growing concern to those at the Center for Disease Control. In fact, The Columbia Chronicle reported CDC’s announcement of the rise of a more naughty super bug: Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Strains of this antibiotic-resistant, diplococci bacteria stand tough in the face of a range of antibiotics, from penicillin to sulfonilamides. As such, on May 17, 2012, the CDC called for increased monitoring for this super bug by way of culture based techniques in hospitals and health clinics.
However, their recommendations will prove difficult to mandate as more and more testing for gonorrhea shifts to modern, non-culture based detection techniques. Although these tests quickly identify the infection, they fail to indicate whether or not the infection in question is resistant to antibiotics.
The CDC noted that America’s particular vulnerability to super bugs lies in the health policy decisions it has made regarding sexually transmitted infections. Mix the limited monitoring for STIs with America’s disappointing record on sexual health education, and one can see a bright future ahead for STIs.
Focusing on prevention methods before treatment is often lacking in most policy proposals regarding sexual health. Rather than taking the proactive approach to insuring the nation’s sexual health, the United States largely relies on reactive measures. Once the inevitable negative consequences of engaging in unprotected sexual occur, there is action.
In fact, UAB’s own Edward Hook III, professor of medicine and epidemiology, participated in a presentation for the CDC’s public health grand rounds titled, “The Growing Threat of Multidrug-Resistant Gonorrhea.” In the presentation, Hook and his colleagues noted that drug-resistant gonorrhea is especially a concern here in the United States because the nation relies on antibiotic treatment of gonorrhea to control the spread of the infection.
Rather than relying on a reactive method for treating this sexually transmitted infection, health policy makers should consider proactive strategies for managing sexual health in America. An emphasis on maintaining healthy sexual habits and the regular use of contraceptives are valuable measures in combating super bugs like Neisseria gonorrhoeae while also helping to maintain one’s general sexual health.
Although the benefits of antibiotic treatments cannot be overstated, health policy makers would do well to avoid the flip side of this double-edged sword.
For more information on sexual health, check sexual health group, the Advocates Today, Doctors Tomorrow OrgSync Web page at http://uab.orgsync.com.