Don’t fret about new gonorrhea strain

becky.korpi and becky.korpi

Everybody’s generation is known for making some kind of significant contribution to society. Our immigrant ancestors are remembered for their brave treks to this country; grandparents built entire barns before supper and walked to school uphill both ways without shoes, and our parents are heralded for going to Peter Frampton concerts while stoned.

My generation has helped make gonorrhea a drug-resistant “superbug,” according to a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

The report, which documented gonorrhea infections of heterosexual men in 26 U.S. cities, showed a significant increase of cases that do not respond to the common antibiotics primarily used to treat it, according to the CDC.

As a proud representative of Generation Y, I thought we were doing quite well in just spreading the sexually transmitted infection alone — gonorrhea is now believed by the CDC to infect 700,000 people a year, most of whom are sexually active teens, young adults and blacks.

But contributing to making this nasty infection drug-resistant? Now we’re overachievers.

Tom Schact, chief of staff and physician at the Vielmetti Health Center, has treated gonorrhea cases on campus for 17 years and said despite anxiety from U.S. health officials, the new strains are nothing to get frazzled about.

“Gonorrhea has always had some mild resistance issues,” he said. “It has a long history of evolving; in the western United States there have been different strains for a long time — the concern now is just that those strains are more widespread.”

In other words, there’s too much love between states right now. But tell the CDC to try breaking up with Illinois because Wisconsin is totally cuter. It’s not that easy.

The CDC, however, thinks it’s a better idea to freak out. A higher class of antibiotics — given as a shot instead of a pill — have now been recommended to treat the infection after the number of drug-resistant cases among heterosexual men spiked 7 percent in the last six years.

That’s at least one percent a year; only the 10 plagues of Egypt did more damage so quickly, I’m certain.

Clearly, the CDC is onto what we young adults are capable of, and although Schact said he is not concerned about the one or two cases of gonorrhea he sees a year on campus, the Health Center will still implement the new treatment “for the few persons who will need it,” he said.

Schact added that he isn’t worried about gonorrhea ever becoming a problem at NMU.

“We’re usually one step ahead; the resistance is still low, so I would hardly call it [a crisis] at this point,” he said.

Don’t let that get you down, friends; with all the efforts we’re putting forth, gonorrhea is now expected to reach 800,000 people a year, according to Emedicine.com. With a global population of 6.5 billion, it will take awhile before it claims us all. But I have faith in us.

Now the second-most common sexually transmitted infection in this country, gonorrhea can cause infertility in both men and women and leave its hosts more susceptible to getting the AIDS virus, according to the CDC. Simple condom usage is an effective way to prevent catching the infection, but then again my age group has always thrived on being difficult.

Way to be, Generation Y. Thanks in part to us, a perfectly curable infection is putting up a more difficult fight and subsequently, U.S. health officials are trying to prevent a “public health crisis.” I didn’t think we had it in us (pun completely intended).