English health authorities have issued a warning over the outbreak of a highly drug-resistant super strain of gonorrhea in the UK, currently spreading across the north.
Public Health England (PHE) has reported 15 cases so far since its first detection in Leeds in March this year, with many more to be expected across Macclesfield, Oldham and Scunthorpe, according to the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH).
Gonorrhea is a bacterial disease which is sexually transmitted and spreads through all kinds of unprotected sexual activity. The scary aspect of this disease is that it has little of no distinct symptoms. Pain during urination and bleeding in between menstrual cycles can be common signs of infection in women, along with the discharge of thick green or yellow mucus-like substance. However, many sufferers have little or no symptoms and it is only detected if they decide to get an STD test. Left unchecked, gonorrhea can lead to inflammatory diseases and in the worst case infertility. It can also be transmitted to an unborn child during an infected mother’s pregnancy.
So far, all infected patients have been heterosexual, and some reported having recently had sex with people from other parts of England. The drug usually used to treat the STD is called Azithromycin but, unfortunately this new strain seems to be resisting the treatment which is having little or no effect.
And this is scaring the experts. What makes this particular STD a national concern is it is proving incredibly difficult to get rid of.
In a statement, BASHH said: “An outbreak control team meeting has been convened and [the bacteria reference unit] are currently performing next generation sequencing on these strains to better understand the molecular epidemiology.
“PHE is concerned that the effectiveness of current front-line dual therapy for gonorrhoea will be threatened if this resistant strain continues to spread unchecked.”
In response, BASHH has formed a gonorrhea outbreak control team. The team is working to better understand gonorrhea’s molecular epidemiology and pave the way for a new drug.
photo credit: Salon