The last oral antibiotic that is effective in curing the sexually transmitted disease gonorrhea may not be effective anymore. A study published today in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) found that the oral antibiotic cefixime was ineffective in treating the disease in 7% of cases where it was prescribed. For those of you who have been playing along at hom, watching gonorrhea get scarier and scarier, you can move your "STD Doomsday Clock" one minute closer to midnight, as pretty soon, the only viable medical treatment for gonorrhea will be "getting set on fire and thrown on the pile."
Researchers following the spread of salmonella in Africa, which has reached epidemic levels, have found that the spread of the disease may be linked to the emergence of HIV on the continent, implying that the blood-borne disease may have followed in the wake of HIV, finding good hosts in people with compromised immune systems and becoming more prevalent as it did so. The same study has also identified some of the genes for antibiotic resistance that are partly to blame for the disease's increased virulence and mortality in Africa.
In May, a form of the bacteria Escherichia coli (better known as E. coli) began infecting people in Germany and other parts of Europe. Now, with 18 dead and over 1,500 people infected, the World Health Organization (WHO) has announced that the strain responsible for the outbreak has never before been isolated from a human patient, making it a completely new strain. Designated as 0104:H4, the new E. coli strain combines two particularly dangerous elements -- toxin and "glue." Genetic analysis has shown that the strain is in a class of E. coli called STEC that produces Shiga toxin, which causes diarrhea and vomiting. In severe cases, it can also cause hemolytic uremic syndrome (HUS) by attacking the kidneys and causing subsequent coma, seizure, and stroke. Researchers believe that like other STEC's, this strain contains a "glue" or protein that helps the bacteria cling to the cells in the intestine.