The Public Health England (PHE) in the United Kingdom received over 15 cases of azithromycin-resistant gonorrhea. The outbreak of this loosely called 'super' gonorrhea started in March 2015 with a concentration in Leeds.
The antibiotic azithromycin is one of gonorrhea's main treatment. It is used together with a drug called ceftriaxone. Cases of azithromycin-resistance are uncommon in the past years. Since the outbreak in March 2015, cases have been filed from patients in Oldham, Scunthorpe and Macclesfield. The British Association for Sexual Health and HIV fear that there might be undiagnosed cases.
"This azithromycin highly resistant outbreak is the first one that has triggered a national alert," said sexual health consultant Peter Greenhouse. Reported cases of the 'super' gonorrhea outbreak involve heterosexual patients who claim to have partners in other parts of England.
PHE officials are highly worried with the ineffectively of the azithromycin drug in the reported cases. In response to the mounting concern, a gonorrhea outbreak control team has been formed. The team is working to better understand gonorrhea's molecular epidemiology and pave the way for a new drug.
The fifteen reported cases might not be substantial in terms of national health, but if left unchecked, the evolved strain could spread even wider and will result in a bigger outbreak that will be more difficult to contain.
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV president Dr. Jan Clarke explains the importance of alerting the entire chain of national clinics about the evolved strain of gonorrhea. He adds that the patients who have them must trace back meticulously to help the association contain the outbreak.
Gonorrhea is a sexually transmitted, bacterial disease that is spread through all kinds of unprotected sex. Common cases of gonorrhea have almost no distinct symptoms. Pain during urination and bleeding in between menstrual cycles are common signs of infections, along with the discharge of thick green or yellow mucus-like substance. Left unchecked, gonorrhea can lead to inflammatory diseases and infertility. It can also be transmitted to an unborn child during an infected mother's pregnancy.
In England, gonorrhea cases continue to increase in recent years and has become the second leading sexually transmitted disease. In 2014, there were 34,958 reported cases of gonorrhea in Enland, a sad 19 percent from the figures in 2013.