Antibiotic-resistant ‘super gonorrhoea’ identified in England

Antibiotic-resistant ‘super gonorrhoea’ identified in England
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New cases of antibiotic-resistant “super gonorrhoea” have been identified in England.

A London woman in her 20s and a Midlands-based heterosexual couple in their 20s have recently been diagnosed with the antibiotic-resistant Neisseria gonorrhoeae.

The main antibiotic used to treat gonorrhoea - ceftriaxone - doesn’t work on this strain, making treatment trickier. For the three recent cases, they will undergo follow-up tests to ensure their treatment has been successful.

Ceftriaxone resistance is most common in the Asia-Pacific region and is occasionally detected in the UK in people who have visited or who have moved to the UK from this region.

The three new cases are not known to be connected.

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The new cases come after a man in his early 20s acquired the infection in London in November. Thankfully, his treatment was successful.

What are the symptoms?

Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating, pain and discomfort in the rectum and, in women and other people with a uterus or ovaries, lower abdominal pain and bleeding between periods.

However, often people infected with gonorrhoea will have no symptoms, especially for infections in the throat, vagina or rectum.

Treating gonorrhoea as soon as possible is very important as it can lead to serious long-term health problems; in women and other people with a uterus or ovaries, gonorrhoea can spread to the reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). PID can lead to long-term pelvic pain, ectopic pregnancy and infertility.

In men and other people with testes, it can cause a painful infection in the testicles and prostate gland, which may lead to reduced fertility in some cases.

How can you get tested?

STI testing is free and available through online self-sampling services or by contacting local sexual health services.

You can check where your nearest sexual health clinic is on the NHS website.

What do the experts say?

Dr Katy Sinka, STI Section Head at the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), said it’s a good idea to test for STIs regularly, and if you have any symptoms you should wait until you get the all-clear before having sex again.

Dr Sinka said: “After a couple of years without any cases of this hard to treat form of gonorrhoea, we have now seen 4 cases in the last 2 months.

“It’s too soon to say whether this will be the start of a longer-term trend, but we do know that STIs are on the rise in general.

“Getting an STI isn’t as simple as taking some medicine and moving on with your life – if not properly treated, they can have long term impacts on your and your partner’s health. Adding antibiotic resistance into the mix makes the impact on your life even greater.

“There are simple steps you can take to reduce your risk of gonorrhoea and other STIs.

“Use condoms consistently and correctly with all new or casual partners, test regularly for STIs and if you have any symptoms such as unusual discharge, don’t have sex until you are tested.”

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