Health officials running out of ways to treat gonorrhea as cases increase in Indiana

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -- A health warning from the World Health Organization was recently released regarding the types of antibiotics that can cure gonorrhea. Health officials warn they're running out of ways to treat the sexually transmitted disease.

"It's mutating. It's scary so you just have to protect yourself and use condoms," said Community Health Network Ob/Gyn Dr. Rachel Leland.

Gonorrhea is getting trickier to treat. The disease has outgrown so many drugs there's only one left.

"So gonorrhea has really specialized in adapting itself to be drug resistant. Syphilis is an std that's been around for a long time and it's still sensitive to the very first antibiotic, penicillin. Gonorrhea used to be treated with penicillin but now over the years every drug that we try it kind of changes itself," Leland said.

Health officials all over the world have been advised to treat gonorrhea the same way.

"So current recommendations through the CDC is a dual therapy. One is an injection and one is an antibiotic you take by mouth. And combating gonorrhea two ways instead of with one drug we're able to treat most gonorrhea infections," Leland said.

The World Health Organization says it's a risk the one remaining treatment could stop working in about five years. For now Dr. Leland says she hasn't noticed any drug resistant gonorrhea in her office but she's noticed more patients are getting gonorrhea multiple times.

The STD can be especially dangerous for women as it could affect fertility. So as the chances increase for gonorrhea treatment failing Dr. Leland is taking her message back to the basics, practice safe sex.

"So it's scary to think of an std not having a treatment. But what always comes first to my mind is let’s try to prevent these STDs so I don't have to worry about drug resistance."

Current recommendation suggest anyone under 25-years-old should get screened for gonorrhea and chlamydia yearly. Other than that you should get tested if you are not in a mutual monogamous relationship. If there are any local cases of gonorrhea that are drug resistant those test results will go to the local health department and the CDC for further testing.

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