Quickfire Science: Gonorrhoea

This week Public Health England announced that the STI gonorrhoea could become untreatable by 2015 - what do you need to know?
25 April 2013


This week, Professor Cathy Ison from Public Health England announced that the sexually transmitted infection gonorrhoea could become resistant to all known antibiotics by 2015. Here's the quickfire science on the disease from our Naked Scientists team members, Elena Teh and Pete Skidmore. 

Elena - Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted bacterial infection most often seen in young adults in the age of 25.

Pete - With 62 million new cases each year worldwide, it's the second most common bacterial STI after chlamydia.

Elena - Gonorrhoea is on the rise in the UK with records showing a 25% increase in cases in 2011.

Pete - It's transmitted between people during unprotected sex and may also be passed from an infected mother to her baby during birth.

Elena - The bacteria can infect all parts of the female and male reproductive system as well as the eyes and throat.

Pete - The infection is often symptomless, but may cause yellow discharge and a burning sensation when urinating.

Elena - If left untreated, more serious complications can occur including the destruction of the Fallopian tubes and infertility in women.

Pete - Gonorrhoea is normally treated with a course of antibiotics, but some strains are developing resistance to these drugs.

Elena - Almost a quarter strains are now resistant to penicillin, so alternative antibiotics are having to be used. In time, these may also become ineffective.

Pete - With no new antibiotics in the pipeline, awareness of safe sex practices and regular check-ups is still the best form of protection.


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