A recent study has shown that a common strain of syphilis has become more resistant to antibiotics, writes Lucy Mangan.
A recent study has found that a recent strain of syphilis does not react to the antibiotics commonly used to treat it.
 
A recent strain of the bacteria has begun to spread across the globe, which may have devastating consequences for those who contract it.
 
The study, which was published by the Institute for Evolutionary Biology and Environmental Studies at the University of Zurich, says that from samples gained from Seattle, British Columbia, San Francisco and the Czech Republic “indicate that macrolide antibiotic resistance has increased over time.”
 
Although penicillin is the usually the first choice to treat syphilis, the use of macrolides being prescribed is becoming more common. Macrolides are already in common circulation today, a widely used drug - azithromycin is a macrolide and can also be taken orally rather than through an injection, which is increasing their popularity worldwide.
 
There are currently two strains of syphilis, Nichols and Street Strain 14 (SS14), with both strains showing signs of resistance. However, it is much more common with the SS14 strain, with 90 per cent of samples being resistant in another study done by Ars Technica.
 
Currently the strains of syphilis that are being tested in labs have been passed down from earlier generations of lab animals and may not be an accurate representation of the real world strain. The use of these strains is helpful in relation to our knowledge but may not be so helpful in battling the drug resistant strains.
 
Syphilis is also known as the ‘silent STD’, usually presenting with symptoms that can be confused as another disease, which may be the reason that the rate of syphilis is growing rapidly. If left untreated, syphilis can lead to failure of internal organs and eventually death.
 
Syphilis is not the first STD to show resistance to treatments, gonorrhea has progressively become more resistant to the antibiotics used to treat it, which is leaving doctors with very little options to treat the STD.
 
STDs have continue to show an increase in Ireland, with chlamydia, gonorrhoea, herpes, syphilis and HIV all on the increase.