Sixteen cases of a drug-resistant strain of “super-gonorrhea” have been reported in England, which the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV says used to be quite rare.
This particular strain of gonorrhea is usually treated with a cocktail of drugs, but it has become resistant to the antibiotic azithromycin. (Antibiotic resistance is an issue plaguing modern medicine.)
The outbreak of “The Clap” began six months ago in Leeds. Since then, several people from Macclesfield, Oldham, and Scunthorpe have fallen ill. All of the reported cases have been in heterosexual patients.
While the number of infections may seem small, there could be unreported cases lurking – especially considering only about 10% of male patients and 50% of female patients ever have symptoms. Some of the patients had sexual partners in other parts of England, as well.
“This azithromycin highly-resistant outbreak is the first one that has triggered a national alert,” Peter Greenhouse, a sexual health consultant based in Bristol, told the BBC.
“It doesn’t sound like an awful lot of people, but the implication is there’s a lot more of this strain out there and we need to stamp it out as quickly as possible.
If this becomes the predominant strain in the UK we’re in big trouble, so we have to be really meticulous in making sure each of these individuals has all their contacts traced and treated.”
Gonorrhea is the second-most common bacterial sexually-transmitted disease in the United Kingdom, behind chlamydia. Last year, there were nearly 35,000 cases of gonorrhea reported in England. The illness usually strikes people under age 25.
Public Health England’s (PHE) sexually transmitted bacteria reference unit (STBRU) is currently performing next-generation sequencing on the drug-resistant gonorrhea strains in order to get a better grip on their molecular epidemiology, PHE said in a statement.
Here is what to look out for.
The Symptoms of Gonorrhea in Men Include:
- Pain or burning sensation when urinating
- An unusual white, yellow, or green discharge from the tip of the penis
- Inflammation of the foreskin
- Pain or tender testicles
- Pain or burning during urination
- A green or yellow vaginal discharge that may be thin or watery
- Pain or tenderness in the lower abdomen
- Bleeding between periods, heavier periods, or bleeding after sex