UK incidence of drug-resistant gonorrhoea soars

 The spread of drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea led to a 25% rise in newly diagnosed cases of the disease in England in 2011.

With some European patients showing full resistance to first-line treatments, the Health Protection Agency has warned that gonorrhea may become “a very difficult infection to treat”.

The growing medical crisis highlights the need for new and more specific antibiotics that was noted by GSK’s Andrew Witty in March.

Gonorrhoea is a bacterial infection that can lead to infertility if not effectively treated with antibiotics.

Professor Cathy Ison, a gonorrhoea expert at the HPA, said that drug resistance had been dealt with in the past by the use of a new drug – but now there isn’t one.

Dr Gwenda Hughes, Head of Sexually Transmitted Infection Surveillance at the HPA, warned: “We are worried that in the next five years, or some point in the future, that this is going to be a very difficult infection to treat.”

Sexual health will shortly become the responsibility of local authorities rather than the NHS, though medication will remain essential to the treatment of sexually transmitted infections.