Super-gonorrhoea is becoming MORE resistant to common antibiotics

Super-gonorrhoea is becoming MORE resistant to common antibiotics making options limited for the soaring amount of cases, officials warn

  • Resistance to three most common drugs continues to grow, health officials say
  • Cases of the ‘silent’ STI are rising – by 22 per cent in the year 2016 to 2017
  • British man was detected as having the ‘worst case ever’ last year 

Super-gonorrhoea is becoming more resistant to antibiotics, sparking warnings from health officials to be more careful.

The sexually transmitted infection (STI) is becoming increasing difficult to treat, able to fight off three common drugs. 

It comes amid a soar in cases – there were almost 45,000 diagnoses in England in 2017, a rise of 22 per cent in one year, figures show.

 Super-gonorrhoea is becoming more resistant to antibiotics while cases soar

Super-gonorrhoea is one of many antibiotic-resistant infections which together kill an estimated 700,000 people worldwide each year. 

Patients are normally given ceftriaxone and azithromycin to combat gonorrhoea, the third most common STI in Britain.

But a report from Public Health England revealed the resistance to these three drugs continues to grow, limiting the options available to treat the disease. 


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Ciprofloxacin is now proving resistant in 36.4 per cent of cases of gonorrhoea, 2017 figures in the Public Health England report show.

WHAT IS SUPER GONORRHOEA? 

When gonorrhoea is resistant to one of two antibiotics recommended to treat it, it is known as super gonorrhoea. 

All types of gonorrhoea – historically called ‘the clap’ – are caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

It is quick to develop and strains mutate every few years to become resistant to drugs.

Doctors have frequently changed their recommended treatments to keep up with the changing nature of the bug. It stopped responding to penicillin in the 1980s.

Symptoms of gonorrhoea include discharge, bleeding or pain when urinating.

But around one in two women and one in 10 men will not experience any signs, which is why the infection is so easily spread.

Women who do not get treatment can develop pelvic inflammatory disease – an infection of the womb and ovaries which can cause infertility.

In pregnancy, it can cause miscarriage, premature birth or lead to babies developing problems with their vision.

Patients with super gonorrhoea can be given some other treatments which might work but can have unpleasant side effects.

Health experts warn it is only a matter of time before the bug mutates to resist these remaining antibiotics too. They recommend using condoms and regular testing to prevent spread of the disease.

This is a rise from 33.7 per cent in 2016.

Azithromycin was resistant in 9.2 per cent of cases in 2017, compared with 4.7 per cent in 2016. 

In March last year, the ‘worst case ever’ of super-gonorrhoea was detected in a British man after he had sex with a south-eastern Asian woman.  

Laboratory tests revealed the Brit had high resistance to both ceftriaxone and azithromycin. He was eventually treated with ertapenem. 

The case lead to warnings from doctors that more difficult cases such as this would be seen.

World Health Organization experts raised fears two years ago the STI, once known as the ‘clap’, could become immune to antibiotics in a ‘matter of years’.

Analysis of STI data around the world previously revealed 97 per cent of countries have reported strains of gonorrhoea that are resistant to ciprofloxacin. 

And more than 50 countries warned strains were showing some form of resistance to ceftraixone.

Chief Medical Officer Dame Sally Davies wrote to GPs in 2015 warning that gonorrhoea could become an ‘untreatable disease’.

Since then, health officials have urged people to remember to use condoms.

But in recent years, it has been revealed that throats act as a ‘silent reservoir’ for gonorrhoea. 

Drug-resistant gonorrhoea can spread from an infected person’s throat during oral sex without them even knowing they have the STI, experts said.    

About one in ten infected men and five in ten infected women will not experience any obvious symptoms, according to the NHS.

The number of gonnorrhoea cases has risen alongside other sexually transmitted infections such as syphilis and chlamydia. 

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