Trending News Today: Drug-Resistant Gonorrhea on the Rise

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Oral sex is driving the rise of drug-resistant gonorrhea, according to The New York Times. Throat infections act as a silent reservoir, and oral gonorrhea is hard to detect and treat. Furthermore, the sexually transmitted infection (STI) becomes resistant to antibiotics directly from other bacteria in the throat. “Transmission is very efficient from someone who has gonorrhea in their throat to their partner via oral sex,” Emilie Alirol, head of the STI program at the Global Antibiotics Research and Development Partnership, told the NY Times. Currently, there is only 1 commercially-available antibiotic that is consistently effective against drug-resistant strains; however, super gonorrhea is becoming an increasing concern, according to the article. When the human body is exposed to antibiotics, natural bacteria in the throat are also exposed. Over time, they can build up a resistance to drugs, which becomes an issue when introduced to harmful bacteria, according to the NY Times. When the natural bacteria of the throat encounter harmful bacteria, it exchanges DNA via the process horizontal gene transfer, which relies on plasmids. When the plasmid contains drug-resistant genes, the gonorrheal bacteria becomes resistant to the antibiotics, too. According to the CDC, 30% all new gonorrhea infections in the United States are resistant to at least 1 drug, and studies show gene transfer is largely responsible.

New study findings take a step towards the long-sought after diagnostic laboratory test for myalgic encephalomyelitis/chronic fatigue syndrome (ME/CFS), according to NPR. ME/CFS is defined as profound exhaustion that cannot be relieved with sleep and is accompanied with flu-like symptoms, muscle pain, and brain fog. In a recent study, investigators linked ME/CFS to variations in certain cytokines that track with illness severity. The link to gradation in severity rather than seeking a positive versus negative result represents a new approach to identify biological markers of the illness, NPR reported. Included in the study were 192 patients with ME/CFS and 392 healthy controls matched for gender and age. Of the 51 cytokines investigated, only 2 differed in their total concentrations between the 2 groups. However, levels of 17 of the cytokines did vary dramatically between patients with mild versus severe ME/CFS symptoms. According to the report, 13 of 17 cytokines were types that promote inflammation. “This is a field that has been full of skepticism and misconception, where patients have been viewed to have invented their disease,” lead author Dr Jose Montoya told NPR. “These data clearly show the contrary, and demonstrate what can be achieved when we couple good research design with new technology.”

In an effort to pressure members of Congress to revive the repeal law for the Affordable Care Act (ACA), President Donald Trump warned Monday that he could end payments to insurers, according to The Wall Street Journal. Ending federal payments to insurers would allow them to be “hurt” by the ACA, President Trump stated. “If Obamacare is hurting people, and it is, why shouldn’t it hurt the insurance companies,” Trump wrote on Twitter. The tweet alludes to the ACA’s cost-sharing reduction payments, which helps insurers cut deductibles and other costs for low-income consumers.