A U.S. Public Health Service ad in the 1940s reads: “She may look clean, but… ‘good time’ girls... spread syphilis and gonorrhea.” (National Library of Medicine)

But that may change now that researchers in Japan have found a new strain resistant to all currently available antibiotics.

The newly identified strain, called H104, has genetic mutations that make it resistant to cephalosporin antibiotics, which are used to treat gonorrhea. Scientists say the new strain could lead to a global health threat if new drugs and effective treatment programs are not developed.

The announcement was made at the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research meeting in Quebec City, Canada.

Gonorrhea is a common bacterial infection that can be transmitted through oral, genital or anal sex with an infected person. If left untreated, gonorrhea can cause sterility and an increased susceptibility to HIV.

Magnus Unem, a researcher from the Swedish Reference Laboratory for Pathogenic Neisseria who was one of several researchers to discover the new strain in Japan, explained to Reuters, “Since antibiotics became the standard treatment for gonorrhea in the 1940s, this bacterium has shown a remarkable capacity to develop resistance mechanisms to all drugs introduced to control it.”

Investigators at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also reported Friday that gonorrhea is becoming more resistant to cephalosporin. The announcement was the result of the a decade-long analysis that looked at almost 6,000 gonorrhea samples.

 There are no recorded cases of patients with gonorrhea that couldn’t be treated with these antibiotics in the United States, so far.