Archive for Ease and Disease

Steps must be taken

The electorate wants things that look like solutions, even when they aren’t:

You might laugh but I remember the 1982 Tylenol thing and that is now why we’re all condemned, when we need a painkiller or OTC antihistamine out of a new box, to have to:

1. Pry the heavily-glued-shut box open

2. Remove the silly plastic “sleeve” that has been heat-shrunk onto the cap and neck of the bottle, and fewer of them have convenient tear-strips than they should. (“A pair of scissors, my kingdom for a pair of scissors” she cries, while searching the house mid-headache)

3. Punch through a “sealed for your protection” (the fig-leaf they put on foods is “sealed for freshness”) foil or foam capper

4. Dig out the cotton that’s stuffed in there, I presume to either keep the pills from breaking or to serve as a bit of a desiccant

All of this because an employee in the company poisoned some capsules … in which case all those things would not have prevented it.

Add several more steps if your remedy of choice has even the slightest resemblance to methamphetamine.

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What could be crueler?

Selma Blair, picture of youth. I first saw her as Cecile in Cruel Intentions, circa 1999; I realize that this was 19 years ago, and she was already 27 then, but the numbers inside my head don’t add up.

Selma Blair, sitting in the back seat

Selma Blair, taking a swim

Selma Blair, modeling something or other

But then there’s this:

https://www.instagram.com/p/BpKjP_7FnWQ/?utm_source=ig_web_button_share_sheet

The BBC reminds us:

There is no cure for MS, but treatment can help manage symptoms. This may include painkillers or drugs to reduce nerve inflammation, physical therapy to ease muscle stiffness, or medication to slow the condition’s progression.

Then again, life itself might well be an incurable disease of sorts.

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Hey, hey, we’re the munchies

There is, of course, a solution:

In case of emergency

The North Texas Poison Center is at 800-222-1222. As the sign says, The Pizza Guy is at 972-733-1222. Try not to mix them up.

(From reddit via Miss Cellania.)

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Paws to consider

Seeing yourself deteriorating — and retaining your sense of humor about it — to me seems only slightly short of miraculous:

The Internet is chock-full of cat videos. Among them there is one that gave us a chuckle a few years ago: a sullen cat pushing various objects off a table. And then came a day few weeks ago when I reached for a remote control sitting on the table right next to me. Rather than grabbing it, I pushed it off the table. It was impossible for me to pick it up with my right hand, which is now in a more-or-less permanently clenched fist.

Dee’s observation: You have now officially become a kitty.

We won’t ask him for a video. But:

Alas, she is right. But at least I don’t have to lick myself all over.

And he doesn’t quite sound sullen. (Yet.)

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The lowest form of cuisine

Circle K might not be your first choice for dinner:

No, not even QuikTrip.

Still, the person who’s never had so much as a 7-Elevem Slim Jim has had no opportunity to build up the kind of immunity our well-traveled road warriors count on.

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Miseries past

“Well, it sounds like you’ve been unhappy for a long time.”

“Honey, you have no idea.”

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Everything from here down

“Tell me where it hurts,” says the doctor.

“I think I just did.”

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This shouldn’t be about me

Arlo Guthrie:

“During these hard days and hard weeks, everybody always has it bad once in a while. You know, you have a bad time of it, and you always have a friend who says “Hey man, you ain’t got it that bad. Look at that guy.” And you at that guy, and he’s got it worse than you. And it makes you feel better that there’s somebody that’s got it worse than you.

“But think of the last guy. For one minute, think of the last guy. Nobody’s got it worse than that guy. Nobody in the whole world. That guy… he’s so alone in the world that he doesn’t even have a street to lay in for a truck to run him over. He’s out there with nothin’. Nothin’s happenin’ for that cat.”

There are times when I have to remind myself that I’m not the last guy.

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Trojan horsing around

I mean, it’s not like they’re expensive or anything:

We have entered a sad, sad world of stupidity when the CDC has to issue a warning that one should not wash out a condom and reuse it. I only hope these losers are recycling their own rubbers and not random old ones they found tossed out at the park down by the river.

Maybe this will work:

No, we don’t.

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At least they’re consistent

The story is always the same. Only the locations change:

A Chipotle restaurant in Ohio has reopened as officials investigate reports of illnesses linked to the location.

The Delaware General Health District says it can’t confirm anything until lab tests are back. But Traci Whittaker, a spokeswoman for the health district says it has received dozens of calls from people reporting illnesses since Sunday, with many mentioning they ate at the Chipotle in Powell, Ohio.

I’m betting Jack Baruth is not one of them.

In a statement, Chipotle says it closed the store Monday “out of an abundance of caution” and that it’s cooperating with local health authorities. It said it implemented its food-safety-response protocols, which include replacing the food and a cleaning of the restaurant.

The closure comes as Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. works to recover from a series of food scares that sent sales plunging.

This quip landed in one of my social-media timelines: “You can’t spell ‘Chipotle’ without E. coli.”

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I could have told you that

You didn’t ask me, of course. Still, it’s good to have corroboration:

Dr. Paul Kelley, a researcher at Oxford University, has scientifically corroborated the claim that nearly every worker to ever live has made: that it sucks to work before 10 AM. In an interview, Kelley said:

“Before the age of 55, the circadian rhythms of adults are completely out of sync with normal nine-to-five working hours, posing a “serious threat’ to performance, mood and mental health.”

I got news for you, Doc: said rhythms don’t necessarily realign themselves at 55.

“Staff are usually sleep deprived.” Kelley asserts. “We’ve got a sleep-deprived society. It is hugely damaging on the body’s systems because you are affecting physical emotional and performance systems in the body. Your liver and your heart have different patterns and you’re asking them to shift two or three hours. This is an international issue. Everybody is suffering and they don’t have to.”

I did fairly well on swing shift (3:30-midnight) in my thirties. Physically, anyway. (Socially, I was douchey.)

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Textile analysis

Anything that begins “What is it with society?” automatically earns the side-eye:

What is it with society? I have a form of vestiphobia according to my psychologist and so many people are not compassionate at all!?

I hate wearing clothing due to my body thermostat being out of wack and I’m allergic to certain kinds of fabric, but people are so uncomfortable being around someone that prefers not to wear anything and this greatly reduces my social life! Obviously in public there are laws that force me to be dressed, but why are people so uncomfortable with letting me be undressed in social situations where the public can’t see? It’s just crazy and not fair.

“Oh, you poor thing. Go ahead and take your clothes off.” — nobody ever.

Those of us who do without clothing when we can learned a long time ago that this was going to reduce our social lives; it’s unreasonable for us to expect that our naked bodies will always be welcomed with open arms. Yes, it would be nice if there was more social acceptance to be had; but it’s an issue we can’t force, and even if we could, we shouldn’t. I’m interpreting “social situations where the public can’t see” as “I answered the door nude, and they threatened to call the police.” And what he might read as “compassion,” I’m thinking might be closer to “Humor him, honey. He might do something drastic.”

There are friends I’ve had for two decades and more who, if they’re coming over, will call first so I have time to throw on something more than a robe. The deal is: they’re still friends. Our alleged vestiphobe would never comprehend such a thing.

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A definite C word

The Local Malcontent minces no words:

I got some sobering news from my various Cancer doctors this morning:

My PSA number has more than doubled since my last Lab work in March, 2018, from 3.61 on March 21, to 7.33 on July 6th.

I had been trying to get the recent results for 4 days, to compare and to chart my PSA’s rate of change. And this news is indeed very disturbing.

It’s not the number itself that’s high, apparently; it’s the rate of increase.

Rather a lot of people on the old blogroll have slid into the Next Life, some of them without much warning. I hate that. Nothing much I can do about it, except appeal to the Almighty, but I’m pretty emphatic about hating it.

(Seen first by McG.)

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Another dose of karma

And the co-pay will make your hair stand on end:

Vyera Pharmaceuticals, formerly called Turing Pharmaceuticals, lost more than $1 million in the first quarter of 2018, according to financial documents obtained by STAT. Sales, driven by the $750-a-pill Daraprim, have been on the wane over the past two years, falling more than 14 percent in 2017 and on pace to drop another 7 percent in 2018.

The company gained notoriety in 2015 after [Martin] Shkreli, then CEO, acquired Daraprim, which treats a rare infection called toxoplasmosis, and raised the price more than 5,000 percent. Despite a public outcry, Shkreli claimed the move would bring in hundreds of millions of dollars a year in profits for the company’s shareholders and fund the development of new, better treatments for toxoplasmosis and other rare diseases.

But audited financial statements obtained by STAT show Vyera is nowhere near meeting either goal. The documents suggest Shkreli’s move was a short-term success: The Daraprim price hike helped Vyera achieve stellar gross margins, but the company’s expenses cut deeply into its net income. After turning small profits in 2016 and 2017, Vyera is now losing money. Daraprim sales are falling, and Vyera has laid off at least a handful of salespeople; expenses remain high.

Sales are falling? After a 5000-percent price hike? Who could have imagined such a thing?

U.S. prescriptions for Daraprim have consistently fallen over the past two years, from 427 in the first quarter of 2017 to just 107 in the first quarter of 2018, according to IQVIA, a pharma consultancy that tracks drug sales.

But it’s apparently not just the price:

A former employee said the company’s problems in part reflect a shrinking patient population.

Toxoplasmosis is a rare infection that largely affects patients with HIV. As HIV therapies gain wider use across the country, there are fewer and fewer patients who need Daraprim. That, coupled with the drug’s famously high price, has put a damper on sales, the former employee said.

“It’s a dying disease — which is a good thing — but it’s bad for the company,” said the former employee, who spoke on condition of anonymity so as not to violate an agreement with Vyera.

So not only does PharmaBro’s company languish in the market while he himself languishes in jail, but fewer people are getting sick. Karma scores the trifecta.

(Via Fark.)

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And just a hint of snake oil

Of course, you’re buying it for the fish:

Taking omega-3 fish oil supplements is often touted as a way simple way to protect your heart — but experts say the evidence that it does any good is flimsy at best. Cochrane researchers looked at trials in over 100,000 people and found little proof that it prevented heart disease.

They say the chance of getting any meaningful benefit from taking omega-3 is one in 1,000.

Eating oily fish, however, can still be recommended as part of a healthy diet.

The review mainly looked at supplements rather than omega-3 from eating fish. Experts still believe the latter is good for the heart as well as general health.

And something that smells like last month’s tuna had damned well better be good for the heart, right?

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Gravity never fails

It was 6:10 this morning. I know this because the digits on the old Timex alarm clock are entirely too bright, but the sun rose around 6:24, which meant that keeping the washcloth in front of the clock face was no longer necessary. I rolled over to get within reach of it.

And kept rolling.

And kept rolling.

And finally, I found myself on the floor: as the old broad said in that infamous commercial, “I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”

Scraping along the floor, I managed to get to the phone and summon 911. (Lucky me, the fire department is only three blocks away.) One of them remembered me from the last time I’d hit the floor this hard.

At least now I know how I die: I pitch forward (or backwards, it hardly matters) out of reach of anything, and can’t propel myself at all. It will be a day or two, or more, before anyone even notices.

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Well, isn’t that specialist

The local VA Medical Center took care of brother James during his last couple of years; he’d rather come up here, he said, than take his chances with whatever Texas had to offer. He did mention, once or twice, that they seemed to be short of doctors, and it turns out he was right:

Under federal employment laws, no federal employee can have a higher salary than the president of the United States, who earns $400,000 per year. That poses challenges for VA hospitals seeking specialists.

Take, for example, cardiothoracic surgeons. The Oklahoma City VA hospital needs four but recently lost one, so they’re recruiting to fill the slot. The problem is that cardiothoracic surgeons can earn far more than $400,000 at private hospitals.

President Trump, so far, has not been actually collecting his salary from the Treasury — he’s been donating it — but that doesn’t make any difference as far as the law is concerned.

One workaround is federal contracts, which can exceed the $400,000 limit. For ophthalmologists, the VA contracts with the Dean McGee Eye Institute at a cost of $600,000. That includes overhead expenses it wouldn’t have to pay if it could hire its own ophthalmologists.

Director Wade Vlosich says it is what it is:

“It is just the way it goes at a VA hospital, because we’ll never reach that salary level for those doctors. So, no, it doesn’t worry me,” Vlosich said. “Areas that worry me are filling inpatient hospital positions, primary care positions and then some of the hard-to-recruit nursing positions, and engineers. Those are really the ones that keep me up at night.”

For what it’s worth, the first psychotherapist I saw this decade moved out of a group practice and into a VA slot. I have no idea how much she was making at either place.

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Manage this, pal

This will last, I suspect, for about five years after it’s proven worthless, after which the Next Big Thing will be proclaimed:

It’s been maybe 20 years since I first read that “pain management” was the most important aspect of health care that the medical profession was overlooking. That quickly became a fad, and now it’s an unhealthy obsession, as the opioid crisis demonstrates. The fact is, these fads cause all manner of damage not just in medicine but in pretty much every human endeavor — education, politics, economics — and it needs to stop.

Everyone hates opioids except for the people who use them. Most of the pills are off-patent and are therefore dirt cheap, which means no windfalls for Big Pharma. And your “pain-management” regimens seem to be based on the dubious premise that physical pain is somehow good for your immortal soul, a proposition I would hate to try to defend before the Almighty. I’m not at all enthusiastic about the therapeutic properties of marijuana, but I suspect that thousands of Oklahomans, myself included, voted for its legalization simply to spit in the eye of the Drug Warriors.

Oh, and if you want to see political fads in action, watch the so-called “Resistance,” which has an attention span of about 96 hours. Families split up at the Mexican border? That was last week. This week, Mr. Justice Kennedy retires, and it’s just a matter of days before women are turned into brood mares at the behest of the New Gilead. Expect something marginally less stale to take over the media by Tuesday.

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Destined to end badly

Although it’s clear who dropped the ball:

An Arizona woman has said she was left “in tears and humiliated” after a staff member at US pharmacy chain Walgreens refused to give her prescription medication to end her pregnancy — even though her doctor had said she would ultimately have a miscarriage.

Nicole Mone had discovered at a doctor’s appointment on Tuesday that her baby was not developing normally.

Knowing her two-month pregnancy would not run to term, she was given a choice to end it through a surgical procedure or prescription medication, and chose the latter.

When she went to a Walgreens in the city of Peoria to get her prescription, she says a pharmacist refused to serve her on moral grounds — a stance which is within the company’s rules.

She told the BBC the staff member was “very short, not compassionate at all.”

This is not a reference to the guy’s height.

“I stood at the mercy of this pharmacist explaining my situation in front of my 7-year-old and five customers standing behind, only to be denied because of his ethical beliefs,” she wrote on Facebook and Instagram.

“I get it, we all have our beliefs. But what he failed to understand is, this isn’t the situation I had hoped for — this isn’t something I wanted. This is something I have zero control over. He has no idea what it’s like to want nothing more than to carry a child to full term and be unable to do so.”

And apparently this wasn’t handled according to Walgreens policy, which the company describes as follows:

Which, it appears, is not what happened:

Ms Mone said that did not reflect her experience, however, as the pharmacist “could have just passed me on to the lady that was standing next to him” — which she says did not happen.

Instead, the prescription was transferred to another Walgreens store. Ms Mone picked it up there after seeking her doctor’s help to ensure the second pharmacy would give it to her.

My idea of “in a timely manner” does not include having to go several miles to another store.

Ms Mone, after talking to Walgreens corporate, has filed a complaint with the Arizona State Board of Pharmacy.

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When I’m sixty-five

I have received something like three dozen Medicare-related mailings in the last month or so, and nowhere did I read anything quite so sensible as this:

If you are an older senior citizen and can no longer take care of yourself and need Long-Term Care, but the government says there is no nursing home care available for you, what do you do?

You may opt for Medicare Part G.

The plan gives anyone 70 or older, a gun (Part G) and one bullet.

You may then shoot one worthless politician.

This means you will be sent to prison for the rest of your life where you will receive three meals a day, a roof over your head, central heating and air conditioning, cable TV, a library, and all the healthcare you need.

Then again, I’m still a few years away from seventy.

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Yet another soap opera

At least this person is, or has been, on meds: Cut a dvla car clamp off my car because I panicked that they where going to sieze it?

Basically I’m usually on antipsychotic medication due to anger problems & the past 3 months have been nothing but cursed, the doctor stopped my medication without warning and would not put them back on without trying to ‘bargain’ with me so I walked out and haven’t been taking medication which I need now, however I hadn’t realized my car wasn’t taxed and woke up to it being clamped about 3 weeks ago, I didn’t have enough money to pay the release fees and they said they will come back and take the car if it’s not payed so I panicked and someone from the street offered to cut it off and I let him and hid the car while I sorted the money out to pay, they then found the car last year and its impounded so I’ve decided I want to give the car up to them now because I need to sort out my medication but I’m scared to go to their office because I don’t want to get in trouble with the police? What do I do

The DVLA is to Britain what the DMV is to most US states. Which makes me wonder if the National Health decided they were spending too much money keeping this silly sod tranquilized.

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Thank you for your support

Provided, of course, you don’t have tusks:

I blame Lindsey Buckingham.

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Where things stand

And I don’t see them improving any time in the near future, either:

Lots of contributing factors — idiot customers, horrible summer heat, and ongoing bodily-function failures — and at best, only one of those is going away any time soon, if “soon” can be stretched to 90 days or so.

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Dreaming of full service

You may remember this from just about a tankful ago:

[L]ast month, when I pulled up to my usual filling station, did my usual painful exercise to get myself out of the car, and only then discovered that the card reader was inoperative. None of my cards would save me in this case. Rather than go through a second round of contortions, I pulled the Walking Appliance out of the back seat, wheeled myself into the store, and peeled off three twenties. This of course necessitated a second trip into the store to retrieve $17 or so in change, but it demonstrated pretty clearly who rules.

This week, I pulled up to a different station, closer to home and dealing in E0. (You want ethanol, you go to the beer display.) I did my usual painful exercise to get myself out of the car, and only then discovered that the card reader was inoperative. The Walking Appliance would not get me up the very steep path to the retail store. With a little help from passersby, I managed to get into the store proper and swipe $60 on the old Mastercard. Forty-five dollars later, another neighbor pointed out that at the far end of the building was an actual ramp, which up to that point I hadn’t noticed, and while I’ve lived around here for a decade and a half, I didn’t need a ramp for most of that time, which explains why I hadn’t noticed it.

Later this week, I assume the store will change that sixty-dollar debit to a forty-five-dollar debit.

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$911 a yard, or something like that

Tam pries open the bill for an ambulance trip, and perhaps wishes she hadn’t:

Literally a hundred times more than I’ve ever paid for an Uber going twice the distance. Hell, I could have Uber’d back and forth between Indianapolis and Lafayette every day for a couple of weeks for that money.

Next time, no matter how much I’m writhing on the floor and screaming in pain at 0300, just tap me behind the ear with a hammer and throw me in the car.

Undoubtedly this was discussed in a boardroom somewhere:

“How much would this trip cost via Uber or Lyft?”

The new kid begins, “Well, it varies with how busy they are. Something called surge pricing.”

“We can’t do that. Bad optics. Find the average and multiply it by 200.”

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Cold day in hell

Miracle cures abound in these days of ultra-modern medicine, but we’re still knocked flat by the common cold — for now, anyway:

UK scientists believe they may have found a way to combat the common cold.

Rather than attacking the virus itself, which comes in hundreds of versions, the treatment targets the human host. It blocks a key protein in the body’s cells that cold viruses normally hijack to self-replicate and spread.

This should stop any cold virus in its tracks if given early enough, lab studies suggest. Safety trials in people could start within two years.

How’s that again?

The Imperial College London researchers are working on making a form of the drug that can be inhaled, to reduce the chance of side-effects.

In the lab, it worked within minutes of being applied to human lung cells, targeting a human protein called NMT… All strains of cold virus need this human protein to make new copies of themselves.

In the US, availability will presumably be contingent upon whether the drug can be used to manufacture other drugs; were there a way to make meth out of meatballs, American drug warriors would ban spaghetti.

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Reversion to form

“Have you had this before?” the doctor asked, pretending to shuffle through the 800 or so pages of my file folder.

“I have,” I said.

“Well, you’ve got it again.”

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A dog-paddle of sorts

He can’t help it, he was born this way:

A remark from Vetbook, a sort of wiki for veterinarians:

In most cases, euthanasia is not recommended as restoration of normal movement eventually occurs as the pup grows, provided the walking surfaces are firm such as carpet, grass, soil, etc.

There’s a lot to be said for not recommending euthanasia.

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We said your time was up

And $DEITYdamnit, we meant it:

Alfie Evans, a British toddler with a degenerative brain condition whose parents lost a legal battle to keep him on life support at a Vatican hospital, was mourned with balloons set free in the sky and prayers from the pope after he died Saturday weeks shy of his second birthday.

Much of the criticism of the National Health Service came from the United States; while Twitter would not permit the topic to be listed as “trending” because of course they wouldn’t, American tweeters were keen to point out that It Can’t Happen Here.

One might not want to be too sure about that:

Orwell would be proud: QALY (quality of life years) criteria are how the death panels the NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) decides if you should live or die.

and with the growing “elderly” population (and fewer kids/immigrants to support them by their taxes) you can see how this cost control idea could rapidly expand to active killing of the old, senile, and those denied treatment.

But before you point fingers at the UK, maybe you should read about the “futile care” law in Texas that has gotten little publicity. From Wikipedia:

“The Texas Advance Directives Act (1999), also known as the Texas Futile Care Law, describes certain provisions that are now Chapter 166 of the Texas Health & Safety Code. Controversy over these provisions mainly centers on Section 166.046, Subsection (e), which allows a health care facility to discontinue life-sustaining treatment ten days after giving written notice if the continuation of life-sustaining treatment is considered futile care by the treating medical team.”

Unlike the UK, if the family wants to, they can move the patient and pay their bills.

Or they can ask the hospital “ethics committee” to decide. The problem being that most “bioethics” types already believe in the “QALY” mindset, so good luck to you fellah.

I assure you, my interest in this topic is not entirely academic; I am, after all, sixty-four years old.

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Please don’t clap

So it’s finally come to this:

A man in the UK has caught the world’s “worst-ever” case of super-gonorrhea.

He had a regular partner in the UK, but picked up the superbug after a sexual encounter with a woman in south-east Asia. Public Health England says it is the first time the infection cannot be cured with first choice antibiotics.

Health officials are now tracing any other sexual partners of the man, who has not been identified, in an attempt to contain the infection’s spread.

The main antibiotic treatment — a combination of azithromycin and ceftriaxone — has failed to treat the disease.

This is also the course of treatment recommended by the CDC in the US, although:

Treatment of patients with gonorrhea with the most effective therapy will limit the transmission of gonorrhea, prevent complications, and likely will slow emergence of resistance. However, resistance to cephalosporins, including ceftriaxone, is expected to emerge. Reinvestment in gonorrhea prevention and control is warranted. New treatment options for gonorrhea are urgently needed.

That was 2012. Didn’t take long for the bug to evolve resistance, did it?

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