A man in Austria is hospitalized after bringing home a most unwelcome vacation souvenir--the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhea.
But not just any gonorrhea--the man is fighting "Super Gonorrhea" that is resistant to the disease's usual treatment, a course of antibiotics.
The man, who is in his 50s, contracted the infectious sexually transmitted disease (STI) after having unprotected sex while vacationing in Cambodia.
Doctors are saying untreatable gonorrhea like his could become a global health concern.
According to a report in the medical journal Eurosurveillance, the man contracted the infection after having unprotected sex with a female sex worker in Cambodia five days before symptoms appeared.
There is no vaccine for gonorrhea and the disease has been treated effectively with a round of antibiotics for decades. But health officials warn the ease of treating the infection may be coming to an end.
Officials blame the overprescription of antibiotics for the establishment of "super" strains of infection that were once easy to treat.
A World Health Organization spokesperson issued a warning about precisely this impact on gonorrhea back in 2020, telling the UK's The Sun newspaper:
"Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhea."
Particularly in urgent care centers, antibiotics are routinely prescribed in the US for ailments like cold and flu for which they have no effect whatsoever.
A 2016 CDC study revealed that totally unnecessary rounds of antibiotics like these account for "at least 30%" of US antibiotic prescriptions.
This has led to a whole host of antibiotic-resistant infections, including diseases like tuberculosis and MRSA--and "super gonorrhea" like the Austrian man's, which Eurosurveillance warned could become a global threat.
"If such strains manage to establish a sustained transmission, many gonorrhea cases might become untreatable."
On Twitter, people were definitely unnerved by the Austrian man's story, even if they couldn't help but crack wise about it.
When untreated, gonorrhea can spread easily and quickly throughout the body and can cause infertility in both men and women. In worst case scenarios, it can also be deadly.
According to the CDC, it is one of the most common STIs in the US, infecting an estimated 1 in 5 Americans.