The U.K. health officials recently said that gonorrhoea may be on the track to become untreatable after a highly-resistant strain of the bacteria was detected. Health authorities urge doctors and pharmacists to prescribe the correct drugs and doses to prevent the sexually transmitted disease from becoming incurable.
In September, the northern regions of England saw an outbreak of super-gonorrhoea, which was very resistant to first-line antibiotics. Epidemiologists explained that the infection is now immune to most new antibiotics, leaving doctors with few alternatives. This is why, clinicians should be extra careful and not prescribe the wrong drugs or doses to new cases.
Public Health England (PHE) recently reported that there were more than a dozen cases of super-gonorrhoea, and the number may soon increase. The strain that causes super-gonorrhoea is immune to azithromycin, an antibiotic used as a first-line treatment option.
But EU health officials have warned that the disease may soon become drug-resistant for years now. Nevertheless, if the condition is left untreated more serious health problems may soon follow such as infertility, dangerous inflammatory disease in women’s pelvic area, and blindness in newborns if mothers carry the disease.
Globally, more than 700,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year. A couple of years ago, 333,004 Americans were diagnosed with gonorrhea. The disease is the second most widely spread STD after chlamydia. It often affects people that are between 14 and 25 years old.
While most patients may experience abnormal discharge or pain during sexual contact or urinating, nearly 10 percent men and about 50 percent of women do not have any symptoms. Nevertheless, patients who do not have symptoms can still transmit the disease to their sexual partners. Symptoms usually appear within two days to two weeks after infection.
According to the PHE’s recent report, prescribing the wrong drugs can fuel the epidemic of drug-resistant gonorrhoea infections worldwide. PHE investigators found that many clinicians still put gonorrhoea patients on ciprofloxacin, which was deemed unsuitable to treat the infection a decade ago.
In 2007, the antibiotic was still prescribed to treat gonorrhoea in 42 percent of cases, while four years later it was prescribed in one in five patients.
PHE investogators explained that such outdated drugs can spur more drug-resistant strains. So far, the cases of super- gonorrhoea were successfully treated with alternative drugs. But there is a high risk of these strains to mutate and gain resistance to all known antibiotics.
Sexually active people are recommended to use a condom and get tested regularly for gonorrhoea. If tests are positive they should resume sexual activity only after they were successfully treated.
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