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Antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea cases expected to emerge worldwide

Warnings after UK man and two Australians suffer STI untreatable with usual drugs

Sally Wardle
Saturday 21 April 2018 10:07 BST
The threat of antibiotic resistance is now affecting gonorrhoea patients
The threat of antibiotic resistance is now affecting gonorrhoea patients (Rex)

Health officials are warning a strain of gonorrhoea that is highly resistant to antibiotics can be expected to travel worldwide.

The strain was contracted by a British man who was eventually treated, but it's feared more cases will appear after two more emerged in Australia.

The man had a regular female partner in the UK but picked up the infection after a sexual encounter with a woman in south-east Asia, Public Health England (PHE) said.

"We are pleased to report that the case of multi-drug-resistant gonorrhoea has been successfully treated," said Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of PHE's sexually transmitted infection (STI) section. "Investigations have also revealed there has been no further spread of this infection within the UK."

Initially attempts to get rid of the STI with the usual combination of antibiotics azithromycin and ceftriaxone failed.

The patient was successfully treated after three days of intravenous treatment with antibiotic ertapenem, the PHE report said.

Dr Hughes said: "Two similar cases have just been reported in Australia and serve as a timely reminder that we expect to see further cases of multi-drug-resistant gonorrhoea in the future. These cases will be challenging for healthcare professionals to manage."

The sexually transmitted disease is the latest in a string of conditions that are now becoming harder to treat as antibiotic overuse renders the drugs ineffective.

It is believed to be the first time globally that the infection could not be treated with first-choice antibiotics.

"We urge the public to avoid getting or passing on gonorrhoea by using condoms consistently and correctly with all new and casual partners," Dr Hughes said.

Gonorrhea can lead to infertility if left untreated. Symptoms include discharge and inflammation.

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