Australia is Preparing for eXtensively Drug-Resistant Strains of Gonorrhea

Australia fully expects that the XDR strains of gonorrhea that have been identified in France, Japan and other places, will be arriving in Australia some time soon. The country is trying to plan now for what to do. For the past three years, the number of gonorrhea cases has increased between 10 and 20 percent a year.

Of concern is the population of men who have sex with other men, because the infection rates are relatively higher than heterosexuals. However, most alarming is the indigenous tribal population of Australia, which currently has 30 times more cases of gonorrhea than non-indigenous people.

Many doctors have already begun treating gonorrhea with a combination of drugs, but most have to wait and see whether the combination therapy works for each individual patient. New tests to detect the disease provide faster and cheaper detection from a urine sample, rather than a more invasive procedure such as a swab of the penis. ¬†However, the new tests don’t have the capability to identify the specific germs that a particular patient is infected with. That knowledge could help a doctor know right away whether single drug therapy, combination drug therapy or some other treatment program would be most effective for an individual.

There are several drugs being researched that look promising, but it’s still too early to tell how effective they will be. Currently, all of the new drugs require injections, not pills. This makes it much more difficult to bring the drugs to the remote poor and the ¬†indigenous tribes.

If you can prevent the disease rather than having to treat it, that’s an even better course of action, and the country is trying to more aggressively educate people about the disease, especially the indigenous population.

Some in Australia are calling for the government to create its own version of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention so the country can monitor what’s happening with the spread of a disease and take the best actions to prevent it from occurring.

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