Worries about ‘super gonorrhoea’ in England

18 April 2016
Gonorrheoa bacteria

Cases of antibiotic resistant gonorrhoea are on the rise in England and spreading across the country, according to a statement issued by Public Health England (PHE) on Sunday (17 April).

Gonorrhoea is normally treated with the antibiotics azithromycin and ceftriaxone. However, the new ‘super gonorrhoea’ has become resistant to azithromycin, leaving ceftriaxone extremely vulnerable to developing antimicrobial resistance, which would result in complete treatment failure. There are currently no other available treatment options for gonorrhoea.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Consultant Scientist and Head of the Sexually Transmitted Infections (STI) Section at PHE, said that complacency was not an option: “If strains of gonorrhoea emerge that are resistant to both azithromycin and ceftriaxone, treatment options would be limited as there is currently no new antibiotic available to treat the infection.”

Between November 2014 and April 2016, there have been 34 confirmed cases of highly drug resistant gonorrhoea. The outbreak first started in Leeds, but cases have now been confirmed in the West Midlands and the south of England.

As gonorrhoea can often be symptomless, it is worried that this number could be far higher.

PHE issued a reminder to practice safe sex by wearing condoms with all new and casual partners.

Gonorrhoea can put people at an increased risk of HIV infection.

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