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April 18, 2016

Super-Gonorrhea Status: Real

Super-gonorrhea just got real.

An outbreak of highly drug-resistant "super-gonorrhoea" is sweeping across Britain and could become untreatable, medics fear.

A national alert was triggered by Public Health England last September after the rare strain of the sexually transmitted superbug was detected in 15 people.

The number of confirmed cases has now risen to 34 and, according to reports, there is "huge concern" among doctors that it is spreading across the UK. And experts said it is at risk of becoming untreatable if the only fully effective antibiotic remaining fails.

The problem is that antibiotics -- wonder drugs we just don't even acknowledge anymore, but which changed the world for the better -- are not keeping up with the rate of mutations of viruses. We've learned to kill a great number of infections -- but viruses are sloppy in their reproduction, and keep making themselves into new forms.

And some of those are resistant to any drugs we know.


The alert comes after Chancellor George Osborne warned resistance to antibiotics will become "an even greater threat to mankind than cancer" without global action.

PHE said an increase in cases of super-gonorrhoea was a "further sign of the very real threat of antibiotic resistance to our ability to treat infections".

It's not just gonorrhea. Any number of infectious diseases we currently laugh at could suddenly roar back to 19th century levels of lethality. Or even sixteenth century.

On the same subject, scientists recently speculated that monogamy evolved as social technology defense against sexually transmitted diseases.

Romantics be warned: The towering edifice of marriage, with its emphasis on having, holding and forsaking all others, may be nothing more than a defence against germs. By forcing monogamy on each other, our agrarian ancestors were collectively less likely to succumb to the ravages of sexually transmitted diseases.

The idea is the latest in a long line of theories that seek to address why many human cultures seem to reinforce and demand monogamous behaviour even though, biologically speaking, humans seem to be at least mildly polygamous.


After running the numbers [modeling rates of monogamy vs. STD frequencies] for the equivalent of thousands of years of simulated time, an interesting pattern emerged. Small groups of about 30 individuals -- analogous to prehistoric hunter gatherers --- did equally well whether they were monogamous or not. The reason could be that in a small population sexually transmitted epidemics cannot propagate far and they quickly peter out after an initial burst, regardless of social mores.

In contrast, enforced monogamy seemed to confer a big advantage on larger groups, numbering around 300 individuals.

Of course, I think may of us have observed, anecdotally, that sexual mores tighten up as STDs proliferate.

Sexual mores are a cultural technology that fall in and out of use as the rate of infection increases or wanes.

digg this
posted by Ace at 03:08 PM

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