LONDON // A new Japanese "superbug" strain of gonorrhoea is resistant to all recommended antibiotics and could turn a once easily treatable infection into a global public health threat.
Magnus Unemo of the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria, who discovered the new strain, H041, with colleagues from Japan in samples from Kyoto, described it as both "alarming" and "predictable".
"Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhoea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it," he said.
"Japan has historically been the place for the first emergence and subsequent global spread of different types of resistance in gonorrhoea," he said.
Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection and if left untreated can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility in women.
It is one of the most common sexually transmitted diseases in the world.