World Health Organisation warns there could soon be 'no effective treatment' for gonorrhoea

 

There could soon be “no effective treatment” against the sexually transmitted infection, gonorrhoea, which infects more than 100 million people globally every year, the World Health Organisation warned today.

In a new appeal to the global medical community, the WHO said several countries including the UK had reported cases of the infection resitant to the last line of antibiotics and millions were at risk of running out of treatment options.

It called for “greater vigilance” in the correct use of antibiotics and more research into new treatments to head off a threatened global health disaster.

"Gonorrhoea is becoming a major public health challenge, due to the high incidence of infections accompanied by dwindling treatment options. The available data only shows the tip of the iceberg. Without adequate surveillance we won't know the extent of resistance to gonorrhoea and without research into new antimicrobial agents, there could soon be no effective treatment for patients," Dr Manjula Lusti-Narasimhan, from the Department of Reproductive Health and Research at WHO, said. 

 The warning is the third to be issued about gonorrhoea by WHO in three years.  Experts say the growth of antibiotic resistance creating potentially untreatable infections poses as great a threat to public health as the emergence of new diseases such as Aids and pandemic flu.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common sexually transmitted disease in the UK after chlamydia. There were almost 21,000 cases reported in 2011, an unprecedented 25 per cent increase on the previous year. The Health Protection Agency warned doctors two years ago to treat cases with two antibiotics in combination after it became clear that traditional therapy with a single antibiotic was no longer enough.

Untreated, gonorrhoea can cause pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility in both men and women, ectopic pregnancy and stillbirth.

"We are very concerned about recent reports of treatment failure from the last effective treatment option - the class of cephalosporin antibiotics - as there are no new therapeutic drugs in development,"  Dr Lusti-Narasimhan said.

Antibitoic resistance is rising in all infections and represents medicine’s equivalent of climate change, experts say. An estimated 25,000 people die each year in the European Union from antibiotic-resistant bacterial infections.

An offical report earlier this year from the Government’s antibiotic resistance working party warned Britain faced a “massive rise” in cases of antibiotic-resistant blood poisoning.

 Dame Sally Davies, the Government's chief medical officer,  pledged £500,000 to fund research into the threat.

Reports have increased across Europe of patients with infections that are nearly impossible to treat. Last year the European Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC) said  that in some countries up to 50 per cent of cases of blood poisoning caused by one bug - K. pneumoniae, a common cause of urinary and respiratory conditions - were resistant to carbapenems, the most powerful class of antibiotics.

Marc Sprenger, the director, said: "The situation is critical.”

Discovering new medicines to treat resistant superbugs has proved increasingly difficult and costly - they are taken only for a short period and the commercial returns are low. The European Commission last year  launched a plan to boost research into new antibiotics, by promising accelerated approval for new drugs and funding for development.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Recruitment Genius: Trainee Field Sales - OTE £30,000

    £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company is a rapidly expanding offi...

    Recruitment Genius: Support and Development Engineer

    £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The leading provider of Employee Managem...

    Recruitment Genius: Creative Designer

    £15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This Kent based design consulta...

    Recruitment Genius: Contract Inspection Engineer

    £230 - £250 per day: Recruitment Genius: Ensure that all testing procedures co...

    Day In a Page

    Greece debt crisis: What happened to democracy when it’s a case of 'Vote Yes or else'?

    'The economic collapse has happened. What is at risk now is democracy...'

    If it doesn’t work in Europe, how is it supposed to work in India or the Middle East, asks Robert Fisk
    The science of swearing: What lies behind the use of four-letter words?

    The science of swearing

    What lies behind the use of four-letter words?
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won't have him back

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    Clive fled from Zimbabwe - now it won’t have him back
    Africa on the menu: Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the continent

    Africa on the menu

    Three foodie friends want to popularise dishes from the hot new continent
    Donna Karan is stepping down after 30 years - so who will fill the DKNY creator's boots?

    Who will fill Donna Karan's boots?

    The designer is stepping down as Chief Designer of DKNY after 30 years. Alexander Fury looks back at the career of 'America's Chanel'
    10 best statement lightbulbs

    10 best statement lightbulbs

    Dare to bare with some out-of-the-ordinary illumination
    Wimbledon 2015: Heather Watson - 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Heather Watson: 'I had Serena's poster on my wall – now I'm playing her'

    Briton pumped up for dream meeting with world No 1
    Wimbledon 2015: Nick Bollettieri - It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve

    Nick Bollettieri's Wimbledon Files

    It's time for big John Isner to produce the goods to go with his thumping serve
    Dustin Brown: Who is the tennis player who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?

    Dustin Brown

    Who is the German player that knocked Nadal out of Wimbeldon 2015?
    Ashes 2015: Damien Martyn - 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Damien Martyn: 'England are fired up again, just like in 2005...'

    Australian veteran of that Ashes series, believes the hosts' may become unstoppable if they win the first Test
    Tour de France 2015: Twins Simon and Adam Yates have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Twins have a mountain to climb during Tour of duty

    Yates brothers will target the steepest sections in bid to win a stage in France
    John Palmer: 'Goldfinger' of British crime was murdered, say police

    Murder of the Brink’s-MAT mastermind

    'Goldfinger' of British crime's life ended in a blaze of bullets, say police
    Forget little green men - aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert

    Forget little green men

    Leading evolutionary biologist says aliens will look like humans
    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain: An Algerian scientist adjusts to life working in a kebab shop

    The Real Stories of Migrant Britain

    An Algerian scientist struggles to adjust to her new life working in a Scottish kebab shop
    Bodyworlds museum: Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy

    Dying dream of Doctor Death

    Dr Gunther von Hagens has battled legal threats, Parkinson's disease, and the threat of bankruptcy