The British man who contracted the first case of “super-gonorrhea” has been cured, but health officials believe there’s a good chance that even more cases will soon be reported, following the confirmation of two new cases in Australia.
Reports of the unusual, extremely resistant strain of gonorrhea first emerged in March, after a man in the U.K. developed the sexually transmitted infection following intercourse with a woman in Southeast Asia. As recalled by BBC News, this marked the first time the so-called “first choice” antibiotics — a combination of the drugs azithromycin and ceftriaxone — did not work against the disease. A subsequent review of the man’s case revealed that the antibiotic ertapenem might cure his gonorrhea, which proved to be correct. This was confirmed Friday in an official statement from Public Health England.
“We are pleased to report that the case of multi-drug resistant gonorrhoea has been successfully treated,” read a statement from Gwenda Hughes, head of Public Health England’s sexually transmitted infections department.
Similarly, British Association for Sexual Health and HIV President Olwen Williams described the case as a “major wakeup call for everybody,” adding that the man was lucky that there was still one antibiotic that had a chance of curing his gonorrhea.
Although there were no further cases of super-gonorrhea reported in the U.K. apart from the above patient’s case, Public Health England added that two patients from Australia might also have contracted the infection, including one who also had sexual intercourse while in Southeast Asia, and another one who had no recent record of overseas travel.
“[The new cases] serve as a timely reminder that we expect to see further cases of multi-drug-resistant gonorrhea in the future,” Hughes warned.
“These cases will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage.”
Two cases of "super gonorrhea," a strain of the sexually transmitted disease that is resistant to all frontline antibiotics, have been identified https://t.co/mwrlPjG6ln
— Raw Story (@RawStory) April 19, 2018
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s gonorrhea fact sheet, the disease is most common in people aged 15 to 24 years old, and can result in genital, throat, and rectal infections, with longterm pelvic and abdominal pain and infertility among the possible consequences if the disease isn’t treated. Gonorrhea can be spread when a person has sexual intercourse with an infected individual, and also from mother to newborn child, when an infected woman gives birth. Symptoms for men and women may vary, and are oftentimes mild, with some cases of the disease being asymptomatic.
The health agency suggests that the proper use of condoms and having a “mutually monogamous” relationship with a partner who has tested negative for STDs could be helpful in reducing the risk of gonorrhea.
At the moment, Williams and other health experts are concerned that the potential overuse of anti-gonorrhea drugs, including last choice medications like the aforementioned ertapenem, might result in higher rates of resistance, and a high possibility of super-gonorrhea becoming more commonplace, Newsweek wrote. She stressed that people are more likely to be infected by so-called “superbugs” when they travel to countries where antibiotic use is not strictly or carefully practiced.
“If you have unsafe sex anywhere in the world, get checked out when you come back before having sex with other partners,” Williams told BBC News.