Doctors in the UK are growing concerned that ‘super-gonorrhoea’ is spreading across England.
The nation was put on alert last year when there was an outbreak of the superbug in Leeds and one of the main treatments failed to cure the illness, the BBC reports.
Public Health England has now acknowledged that their attempts to contain the outbreak have only had ‘limited success’. Health officials are now worried that the sexually transmitted infection, which can cause infertility, could soon become untreatable.
Super-gonorrhoea spread 'huge concern' https://t.co/IR4bQYmBOE
— BBC News (UK) (@BBCNews) April 16, 2016
So far, cases of super-gonorrhoea have been reported in the West Midlands, London and southern England and only 34 cases have been officially confirmed in laboratory testing. However, as the disease can be symptomless this may be just the tip of the iceburg.
The outbreak is reported to have started in straight couples, but is now being seen in gay men too.
Peter Greenhouse, a consultant in sexual health based in Bristol, told BBC News.
We’ve been worried it would spread to men who have sex with men. The problem is [they] tend to spread infections a lot faster simply as they change partners more quickly.
Mr Greenhouse also claimed that gay men are more likely to have gonorrhoea in their throats, which is a problem because the infection is more likely to develop antibacterial resistance as antibiotics get to the throat in lower doses, plus the area is also teeming with other bacteria that can share the resistance to drugs.
While Mr Greenhouse’s statements about homosexuality appear to us to be slightly sweeping, it does seem that anybody who has multiple partners should be careful.
The bacteria that causes gonorrhoea has become adept at shrugging off our best antibiotics so, to counter this, two antibiotics, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, are used in combination. But now resistance to azithromycin is spreading and doctors fear it’s only a matter of time before the bacteria becomes resistant to ceftriaxone.