Warning as antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea hits UK

The UK Health Safety Agency (UKHSA) is reminding people of the importance of protecting yourself against STIs as an antibiotic-resistant strain of gonorrhea hits the UK.

A case of neisseria gonorrhoeae, the bacteria that causes gonorrhea, has been confirmed in a heterosexual man living in the UK.

The bacteria are resistant to the antibiotic ceftriaxone – the last remaining treatment for the infection.

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Investigations suggest the man, in his early 20s, contracted the infection in London in November. Resistance to ceftriaxone is common in the Asia Pacific region, but is rarely found in the UK.

Dr Katy Sinka, Head of the STI Section at UKHSA, said: “The discovery of this strain of gonorrhea in the UK is a stark reminder of the problem of antibiotic resistance in this common sexually transmitted infection (STI).

“To reduce the risk of gonorrhea and other STIs, we recommend using condoms consistently and correctly with all new or occasional partners.

“If you have recently developed STI-related symptoms, such as unusual discharge, avoid sexual contact and have a sexual health test.”

Symptoms to watch out for

Typical symptoms of gonorrhea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when urinating, pain and discomfort in the rectum, and in women and others with a uterus or ovaries, lower abdominal pain and bleeding between periods.

However, people infected with gonorrhea often have no symptoms, especially for infections of the throat, vagina, or rectum.

Treating gonorrhea as soon as possible is very important as it can lead to serious long term health problems, in women and others with uterus or ovaries, gonorrhea can spread to reproductive organs and cause pelvic inflammatory disease. (MIP).

How to get tested for STIs

STI testing is free and available through online self-sampling services or by contacting local sexual health services.

Getting tested and treated for STIs is easy and confidential, and most infections can be cured.

You can make an appointment to go to an STI clinic, or sometimes there is a walk-in clinic, which means you can just show up without needing an appointment.

You might feel embarrassed, but it doesn’t have to – the staff at these clinics are used to testing all kinds of infections, it’s their job and they won’t judge you. They should do their best to explain everything to you and make you feel comfortable.

You can go to a sexual health clinic whether you are a man or a woman, regardless of your age, whether or not you have symptoms of an STI. If you are under 16, the service remains confidential and the clinic will not tell your parents.

The doctor or nurse will tell you what tests you need. They should explain what is going on and why they are suggesting these tests. If you are unsure of something, ask them to explain it to you.

Testing may involve:

  • a urine sample (pee)
  • a blood sample
  • swabs from the urethra (urine tube comes out)
  • an exam of your genitals
  • if you are female, swabs from the vagina, which you can usually do yourself

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