‘Super Gonorrhoea’ May Be On The Rise, WHO Warns
The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned of a ‘super strain’ of gonorrhoea that may be resistant to antibiotics.
The sexually transmitted disease could even become untreatable as people have been overusing antibiotics during the coronavirus pandemic.
While there are symptoms of the STI, such as pain when urinating, one in ten infected men and almost half of infected women don’t experience any symptoms, according to the NHS.
If gonorrhoea goes untreated, it can lead to increased HIV transmissions and eye infections that can result in blindness.
There are 90 million cases of gonorrhoea worldwide each year, a number which is growing by a concerning 17%.
A WHO spokesperson told The Sun, ‘Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhoea. Azithromycin – a common antibiotic for treating respiratory infections – was used for COVID-19 treatment earlier in the epidemic.’
The spokesperson continued:
During the pandemic, STI services have also been disrupted. This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result. Such a situation can fuel emergence of resistance in gonorrhoea including gonorrhoea superbug (super gonorrhoea) or gonorrhoea with high level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it.
Resistant strains in gonorrhoea continue to be a critical challenge to STI prevention and control efforts.
The STI is usually treated with a single antibiotic injection and a single dose of an antibiotic tablet, which should alleviate any symptoms within a few days. It’s then recommended that a person should attend a follow-up appointment for another test to ensure they’re clear of the infection.
Until it’s clear the infection has passed, anyone affected should abstain from sex, the NHS states.
Around three quarters of patients admitted to hospitals in the UK for COVID pneumonia were given antibiotics, according to a Cardiff University paper from Professor Philip Howard, president of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy. However, less than 1% of those admitted had a bacterial infection.
Other similar studies have also found people have been prescribed antibiotics when they haven’t been needed.
Kevin Cox, executive chairman of UK start-up Biotaspheric Limited, expressed his concerns of needed new treatments.
He told The Sun, ‘People infected with super gonorrhoea will infect others and accelerate anti microbial resistance. We urgently need new treatments.’
Dr Hanan Balkhy, WHO’s assistant director general for the antimicrobial resistance division, said, ‘the bottom line is antibiotics should not be prescribed unless there’s a clear medical indication for them’.
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