SUPER gonorrhoea is on the rise as the highly infectious and drug-resistant bug may become untreatable in a perfect storm caused by Covid-19.
World Health Organisation medics warned the STI may become even more resistant to antibiotics as an overuse of them during the pandemic is fuelling its mutation.
Super gonorrhoea is on the rise thanks to the Covid pandemic [/caption]
The super strain of one of the world’s oldest STIs has been given the ideal environment to thrive as the world continues to fight against coronavirus.
Untreated, super gonorrhoea can lead to a five-fold increase of HIV transmission and eye infections that may lead to blindness.
There are more than 90million cases of gonorrhoea worldwide each year, and this number is growing by 17%.
Although WHO reports the majority of cases to be in the African region, the western world is seeing cases grow at an alarming rate.
The CDC reports infections have increased by 63% since 2014, and up to five million people in the US could be infected with gonorrhoea in 10 years.
The UK has the highest gonorrhoea rate in Europe, and there could be more than 420,000 new cases every year by 2030.
Now, an increasing number of cases have been found in hospitals around the world of antibiotics being used unnecessarily to treat Covid-19.
A WHO spokesman told The Sun Online how this and a lack of STI services in the time of the pandemic could also be fuelling the rise of super gonorrhoea.
He said: “Overuse of antibiotics in the community can fuel the emergence of antimicrobial resistance in gonorrhoea. Azithromycin – a common antibiotic for treating respiratory infections – was used for Covid-19 treatment earlier in the epidemic.
“During the pandemic, STI services have also been disrupted. This means more STI cases are not diagnosed properly with more people self-medicating as a result.
“Such a situation can fuel emergence of resistance in gonorrhea including gonorrhea superbug (super gonorrhoea) or gonorrhoea with high level resistance to current antibiotics recommended to treat it.”
They added: “Resistant strains in gonorrhoea continue to be a critical challenge to STI prevention and control efforts.”
Doctors fear overuse of antibiotics could fuel super gonorrhoea[/caption]
Super gonorrhoea symptoms
- An unusual discharge from the tip of the penis, which may be thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
- Inflammation of the foreskin
- Vaginal discharge, which maybe thin or watery and green or yellow in colour
- Pain or tenderness in the lower abdominal area
- Bleeding between periods, heavier periods and bleeding after sex
- Infection in the rectum, throat and eyes
- Pain or a burning sensation when urinating
In a Cardiff University paper, Professor Philip Howard, president of the British Society of Antimicrobial Chemotherapy, said three quarters of patients admitted to hospital in the UK with suspected or proven Covid pneumonia get antibiotics for the virus, while less than 1 per cent of patients have a bacterial infection.
Similar cases have been reported from around the world.
A study from the US showed 71 per cent of Covid patients were given antibiotics, while only four per cent really needed them.
Kevin Cox, executive chairman of UK start-up Biotaspheric Limited told The Sun how all of this is leading to the emergence of super gonorrhoea – and he warned it could soon become untreatable.
He said: “People infected with super gonorrhoea will infect others and accelerate anti microbial resistance. We urgently need new treatments.”
Biotaspheric is seeking funding to develop a new antibiotic technology which has the potential to treat super gonorrhoea.
Covid-19 has led to an overuse of antibiotics, WHO said[/caption]
CDC experts state gonorrhoea strains have become resistant to all but one class of antibiotics – while half of all modern-day infections are now resistant to at least one antibiotic.
The raise in concern of resistance to one of the antibiotics used to treat it, azithromycin, led the CDC to change their treatment recommendation just last week.
WHO’s assistant director general for their antimicrobial resistance division, Dr Hanan Balkhy, has warned of the dangers of unnecessarily using antibiotics to treat Covid-19.
She said: “The use of antibiotics will not treat them but it will create resistance among bacteria that already exists in our bodies.
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“So it’s a very complex scenario, but the bottom line is antibiotics should not be prescribed unless there’s a clear medical indication for them.”
Gonorrhoea is an ancient infection, with ancient Chinese medical textbooks dating back to 2,600 BC describing treatments.
These included injecting mercury, silver and even gold directly into the urethra.
Other unusual methods of treatment included clapping both sides of the penis with hard objects to try and push out the discharge.