Super Strain of Clap Discovered in Hawaii

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Seven people in Hawaii felt the burn last too long.

On Wednesday, in a telebriefing with the media, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new information suggesting gonorrhea is getting harder to treat. Gonorrhea, also known as the clap, is a common bacterial infection, transmitted sexually, that affects women and men. Symptoms include a burning sensation in the genitals area when urinating.

More than 800,000 gonorrhea infections occur annually in the United States, the CDC reports. It can be cured and cleared up quickly with antibiotics, but a new strain has surfaced that has scientists worried.

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A cluster of patients in Hawaii -- six men and one woman -- showed signs of gonorrhea infection that is resistant to the only U.S. recommended treatment.

“Since 2005, we have seen four isolated cases that showed resistance to both drugs, but the Hawaii cases are the first cluster we have seen with reduced susceptibility to both drugs,” said Paul Fulton, Jr., a CDC spokesman.

The seven were diagnosed in April and May and eventually cured by a two-drug regimen of ceftriaxone and azithromycin, but it took longer than normal for the infections to succumb to medicine. Ceftriaxone is a shot and azithromycin a pill.

“We usually see emerging decreased susceptibility or resistance coming from the West, starting with Hawaii, and then we also see a higher proportion of isolates with decreased susceptibility in men who have sex with men,” Dr. Gail Bolan, director of the division of STD Prevention at the CDC told CNN. “This is a pattern we’ve seen with penicillin resistance and other antibiotics.”

The CDC presented its findings at this year’s STD Prevention Conference in Atlanta. To combat a super gonorrhea outbreak, CDC officials recommend health care clinics push for increased STI screenings. Also, a new experimental drug is being developed at Louisiana State University under the direction of Dr. Stephanie Taylor.

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