Scientists in New Zealand say that in a study of 15,000 young people a vaccine, for the first time, has tested positive to abilities to act as protection against gonorrhea, a saxually transmitted infection. Scientists say the study showed infections were cut by about a third.
This is coming after the World Health Organization in a recent publication said that the infection was fast becoming a challenge as antibiotics seemed to have minimal effect in treating the infection.
WHO expressed worry as many developing countries have reported that their last resorts no longer worked against the bacteria.
“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhea is actually more common,” WHO expert, Teodora Wi, said in Geneva.
With over 78 million people affected every year, WHO says that a vaccine might be the last solution to combating the bacteria since antibiotics had failed.
Scientists say that the human body unlike in other infections, does not build resistance no matter how many times a person is infected.
According to BBC, the vaccine, originally developed to stop an outbreak of meningitis B, was given to about a million adolescents in New Zealand between 2004 and 2006.
Researchers at the University of Auckland analyzed data from saxual health clinics and found gonorrhea cases had fallen 31% in those vaccinated.
The bacterium that causes meningitis, Neisseria meningitidis, is a very close relative of the species that causes gonorrhea – Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
It appears the Men B jab was giving “cross-protection” against gonorrhea.
Dr Helen Petousis-Harris, one of the researchers, said: “This is the first time a vaccine has shown any protection against gonorrhoea.
“At the moment, the mechanism behind this immune response is unknown, but our findings could inform future vaccine development.”
Protection seemed to last about two years.
Gonorrhea is a saxually transmitted infection (STI) caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. Many people have no symptoms. Men may have burning with urination, discharge from the panis, or testicular pain