A Superbug Needs to Be Stopped. A Glaxo Vaccine May Slow It Down

New Zealand managed to quell an infectious child-killer with the help of a new type of vaccine. A decade later, scientists in the South Pacific nation found it may be critical combating an age-old, sexually transmitted infection that’s making a comeback: gonorrhea.

That’s spurring optimism that the fast-spreading disease could be slowed using a vaccine already on the market to prevent its bacterial cousin — a strain of the so-called meningococcal bacterium notorious for causing potentially deadly meningitis epidemics in college dorms, such as the recent ones on campuses in San Diego and Massachusetts. While gonorrhea isn’t life-threatening, it’s now on the verge of becoming unstoppable due to antibiotic resistance.

Doctors are also reporting that strains of gonorrhea are behaving like related infections that persist in the throat, where the germs can spread surreptitiously via kissing. That’s adding to the urgency of finding new waysto stop the scourge, which has widened its hold on minority groups, including gay men, to the broader community.

Cases jumped 19 percent in the U.S. last year, with similar trends noted around the world. While no immunization against gonorrhea exists, studies show that a licensed vaccine made by GlaxoSmithKline Plc may offer at least partial protection.

Source: Bloomberg News

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