Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea Outbreak in Northern England

Leeds Town Hall

Leeds Town Hall

Health care officials in northern England are trying to control an outbreak of a highly antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea. An outbreak control team has been sent by Public Health England to Leeds, where there have been 12 reported cases of this strain of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea. There have been four additional cases in other areas in northern England.

Antibiotic-Resistant Gonorrhea

Gonorrhea is a bacterial infection that can normally be cured with antibiotics such as azithromycin and ceftriaxone, but these antibiotics aren’t working for the people with this most recent strain of the disease. While health officials are trying other antibiotic treatments to combat the disease, they worry that a severely resistant strain might leave patients with untreatable gonorrhea. Researchers are currently performing gene sequencing on the gonorrhea super-bug to better understand how it works and how we might be able to combat it.

In the meantime, the outbreak control team is attempting to locate all of the recent sexual partners of those infected by the disease to treat them and prevent them from spreading it to even more people. Officials hope to eliminate this strain by tracking down and treating everyone who has it. In 2011, a similar outbreak occurred in Japan and was contained by health officials there.

Gonorrhea in England

Gonorrhea is the second most common sexually-transmitted disease in Britan, after chlamydia. There were about 35,000 reported cases of gonorrhea in 2014, which was almost 20 percent higher than in 2013. The majority of people affected by the disease are under age 25.

Asymptomatic Gonorrhea

What complicates containing a gonorrhea outbreak is that about  10 percent of men and almost 50 percent of women don’t experience any symptoms from the disease until it becomes quit severe. By this time, someone with asymptomatic gonorrhea might have passed the disease unknowingly to other sexual partners.

Gonorrhea Symptoms

Those who experience symptoms usually have painful or a burning sensation when they urniate, vaginal bleeding and a green or yellow discharge from the penis or vagina. Untreated gonorrhea can result in infertility.

How to Protect Yourself

The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV urges people to use condoms to help protect themselves against gonorrhea. While the protection is not 100 percent effective, it greatly reduces your risk of becoming infected with the disease. Abstinence is the only truly effective way to avoid getting a sexually-transmitted disease such as gonorrhea.

Anonymous Gonorrhea Test

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who is sexually active get tested for gonorrhea and other STDs at least once per year. People at higher risk of infection, such as men who have sex with men, should get tested more frequently.  All cases of this antibiotic-resistant gonorrhea have been among heterosexual individuals.

If you’re delaying getting tested for gonorrhea because you’re afraid of what might happen when you’re reported to the health department, you can follow the instructions in our free guide to anonymous STD testing to protect your identity. Don’t let embarrassment or fear of being exposed prevent you from getting tested and getting treatment.

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