It seems that the new strain of gonorrhoea that is resistant to oral treatment has crossed the Atlantic. The first case of documented treatment failure with oral cefixime has been reported in Toronto. This strain is causing growing concern around the world, as gonorrhoea

Gonorrhoea is the most prevalent bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI) in the world, and if it cannot be treated, can become a major public health issue.

In the UK we have been using oral cefixime to treat gonorrhoea since 2007, however, since last year the number of cases that have been resistant to this antibiotic has been on the increase. This is a major concern as we are running out of treatment options.

We now really only have one option left when it comes to treating gonorrhoea, and that is to use an injectable antibiotic called ceftriaxone. If gonorrhoea became resistant to this we would be in a very difficult situation.

Urethral infection can lead to epididymitis and vaginal infection can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease ( PID), which are both serious conditions that can have further complications. We also know, that if you are infected with gonorrhoea you are more susceptible to picking up HIV if exposed. Furthermore, in HIV positive patients it increases their HIV viral load.

There have been some advances in developing a vaccine against gonorrhoea, but this is still a way off. Hopefully, by introducing the new treatment guidelines we will be able to buy some time till the vaccine becomes available or new ways of treating this very common STI are found.