Beware Of ‘Super’ Gonorrhea: New Untreatable Strain Of STD Discovered

A high-ranking health official in the United Kingdom warned pharmacists and physicians about a gonorrhea strain that is drug-resistant, which could spread in the country.

Dame Sally Davies, the country’s chief medical health officer, sent a letter to pharmacists and physicians all over the U.K. to be wary of the super gonorrhea strain, which was discovered in Leeds, a city in north central England.

Other places where some people were infected include Oldham, Macclesfield, and Scunthorpe.

Davies said in the letter that a strain, which was discovered in March, did not respond to the two prescribed antibiotics that serve as a one-two punch combo to fight the sexually transmitted disease.

Since its first detection, the super gonorrhea strain has already infected 16 people in England.

She wrote to the pharmacists and physicians in the U.K. to ensure that they prescribe the two antibiotics to fight the disease.

Dr. Sachin Jain, who is the medical director of HIV prevention programs at the Montefiore AIDS Center in the U.S., said that injectable ceftriaxone as well as azithromycin in pill form are the standard treatment for gonorrhea.

The super gonorrhea is said to be resistant to the azithromycin treatment.

The same report says that the rise of the super gonorrhea strain could be caused by failure to prescribe both antibiotic drugs to infected individuals. Prescribing only one of the two drugs would not be enough to treat the condition.

A BBC report released earlier this year revealed that some online pharmacies in the U.K. only prescribe just half of the required treatment for the disease.

The particular strain might have been subjected to both anti-gonorrhea antibiotics, but on different occasions, which caused it to develop resistance to the medication.

“Gonorrhea is at risk of becoming an untreatable disease due to the continuing emergence of antimicrobial resistance,” Davies wrote.

Jain added that while there has been a “steady rise in resistance” among gonorrhea strains, it remains unclear what factors cause this to happen. In addition, he said that while the U.S. is still able to treat gonorrhea, the country will soon face health risks once the super gonorrhea strain spreads.

There were more than 350,000 cases of gonorrhea in the U.S. in 2014, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Individuals who suffer from the STD often fall within the 15-24 age group.

Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted disease that an individual acquires after vaginal, anal, or oral sex with a person infected with it. The disease infects both men and women, and could cause infection in the genitals, throat, and rectum.

While there are also some who may experience tenderness in the testes (for men), and tenderness in the lower abdomen (for women), reports said 10 percent of infected individuals do not show any signs or symptoms.

How Does Super Gonorrhea Start?

One way to prevent contracting the disease is proper condom use. If infected, the person and his or her sexual partner should both seek treatment.

If not treated, people suffering from gonorrhea could develop pelvic inflammatory disease (PID), which could then lead to formation of scar tissues, infertility, abdominal pain, and even ectopic pregnancy (or pregnancy outside the womb).

So far in all the cases in England, gonorrhea infection was mostly acquired from heterosexual intercourse.

Peter Greenhouse, a consultant on sexual health, said in an interview that the drug-resistant strain should be stamped out as soon as possible.

“If this becomes the predominant strain in the UK we’re in big trouble, so we have to be really meticulous in making sure each of these individuals has all their contacts traced and treated,” he added.

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