A man in the UK has contracted with the world’s ‘worst-ever’ case of super-gonorrhoea.
A report from Public Health England (PHE) revealed the subject, who remains anonymous, picked up the sexually transmitted infection (STI) after a sexual encounter with a woman in south-east Asia.
Despite being given a course of antibiotics – a combination treatment of azithromycin and ceftriaxone – the infection was not cured.
‘This is the first time a case has displayed such high-level resistance to both of these drugs and to most other commonly used antibiotics,’ said Gwenda Hughes, head of PHE’s STI section.
‘We are following up this case to ensure that the infection was effectively treated with other options and the risk of any onward transmission is minimised.’
Health officials are currently investigating other sexual partners of the man, attempting to limit the spread of the infection.
Gonorrhoea is an infection caused by the bacteria Neisseria gonorrhoeae and can be spread through unprotected sex – including vagina, oral or anal. Symptoms include green or yellow discharge from sexual organs, pain during urination, and bleeding in between periods.
Only one in ten heterosexual men will show no recognisable symptoms, however this number is much higher in women and homosexual men – around three-quarters.
If left untreated, the infection can cause infertility, pelvic inflammatory disease and can be passed on to a child during pregnancy.
Health officials have warned that gonorrhoea could become untreatable.
‘Gonorrhoea is at risk of becoming an untreatable disease due to the continuing emergence of antimicrobial resistance,’ wrote Dame Sally Davies in a letter to all GPs and pharmacies after an outbreak of super-gonorrhoea in Leeds in 2015.
Gonorrhoea is the second most common STI in England, with numbers having increased by 19% between 2013-2014.
With the rise of antimicrobial resistance and cuts in the NHS budget, this new case if a subject of concern for many health experts.
‘We are concerned that the problem will worsen due to the dramatic cuts that have been delivered to the public health budget,’ said Olwen Williams, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV.
‘Worryingly this has left sexual health services at 'tipping point', with clinic closures coming at the worst possible time.’