‘Super gonorrhoea’ hit the headlines after a British tourist contracted a case described as ‘the world’s worst’ in Thailand last year – but the infection has now reached Britain.
Two women have contracted the infection, with one believed to have been infected in the UK, according to Public Health England.
Both women have since been cured after the infections were resistant to traditional treatments, and Public Health England is now investigating if the cases are linked.
The infection is usually treated with the antibiotics ceftriaxone and azithromycin but the bacterium in these two cases was resistant to the drugs.
The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) warns that cases of ‘extensively drug resistant’ gonorrhoea are on the rise.
Experts have warned that there’s a danger that the antibiotic-resistant strains ‘could become untreatable’ (at least with our current arsenal of drugs), IFLScience warned.
Dr Nick Phin, deputy director of the National Infection Service at Public Health England, said: ‘Although these two cases of extensively resistant gonorrhoea have been successfully treated, contact tracing is under way to ensure there is no onward spread.
Dr Elizabeth Kershaw-Yates, GP and one of the medical team at The STI Clinic, says, ‘Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease, and like all sexually transmitted diseases it is on the rise in the UK for a number of factors, but the main one people’s reluctance to use barrier contraception ( condoms).
‘This ‘super resistant’ gonorrhoea was previously only thought to be outside the UK, in countries where people failed to get treated properly ( often through economic reasons rather than choice) but these cases in the UK are concerning. Both have had to have alternative treatments to the standard antibiotics.
‘Due to the resistance in these bugs HPC UK now recommend all gonorrhoea is treated at Sexual Health Clinics, this allows not only proper treatment but ensures follow up of the patient to ensure cure.
‘They are also well placed to carry out contact tracing to halt the spread of disease. The most important factors in the halt of these super bugs is to use protection when having sex and to have regular sexual health check ups as these bugs can be asymptomatic and then if you have antibiotics for another reason the bugs can mutate and start to become resistant to usual treatments. We would recommend a sexual health screen after every new partner ( whether barrier contraception is used or not) or at least every three months.’
Gonorrhoea is caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and spread by unprotected sex.