Gonorrhea Is Now One Antibiotic Away from Being UntreatableS

Remember when we told you late last year that gonorrhea, an STD that can cause infertility and death, is "possibly becoming untreatable"? Well, now the disease is closer to untreatable than it has been since doctors devised a way to treat it in the first place. We're down to just one antibiotic that can effectively fight the disease, and after that, uhh, umm—have we tried fire?

The cause for alarm comes from the CDC's cheerily named "Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report," which today notes:

Gonorrhea is a major cause of serious reproductive complications in women and can facilitate human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) transmission. Effective treatment is a cornerstone of U.S. gonorrhea control efforts, but treatment of gonorrhea has been complicated by the ability of Neisseria gonorrhoeae to develop antimicrobial resistance.

In layman's terms, gonorrhea has gradually grown resistant to nearly every antibiotic we've created over the past several decades to destroy it. Nowadays, our last stand against the disease is injections of the antibiotic ceftriaxone, which then need to be be followed up with oral doses of either zithromycin or doxycycline. I have no idea what any of that means, but it's apparently not good. According to a statement from the CDC's Director of STD Prevention, Dr. Gail Bolan, it is now "only a matter of time" until gonorrhea is resistant to our final, feeble antibiotic regimen. After that, we'll have nothing to stop it, which is not good news considering that 700,000 Americans come down with gonorrhea every year.

If you're not using condoms already—and, really, you should be using condoms if you're having sex with strangers in 2012—maybe you should start now.