A new strain of super gonorrhoea has been reported after an Austrian man had unprotected sex with a Cambodian sex worker.
What makes this strain so worrying is that it is resistant to most antibiotics commonly used to treat the infection, scientists have warned.
Adding to this risk, experts have cited that if multidrug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea keep spreading, many cases of the STD might become untreatable.
This was highlighted in a study published recently in the medical journal Eurosurveillance, part of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control.
The disease is caused by the bacterium called Neisseria gonorrhoeae.
The infection is spread by unprotected vaginal, oral and anal sex.
Lead author of the report, Dr Sonja Pleininger of the Austrian Agency for Health and Food Safety, said such a strain “poses a major global public health threat”.
“If such strains manage to establish a sustained transmission, many gonorrhoea cases might become untreatable,” she added.
The unidentified Austrian man in his 50s complained of unusual symptoms five days after his sexual encounter.
His symptoms reported included pain while peeing and a discharge coming out of his penis.
The man was initially treated with azithromycin and ceftriaxone.
Two weeks later, his symptoms resolved, but a penile swab showed he still had gonorrhoea.
Tests showed his "super" bug was still immune to treatment.
Symptoms of gonorrhoea
“Typical symptoms of gonorrhoea include a thick green or yellow discharge from the vagina or penis, pain when peeing and, in women, bleeding between periods,” warns the NHS.
The national health body added: “But around one in 10 infected men and almost half of infected women do not experience any symptoms.
“The bacteria that cause gonorrhoea are mainly found in discharge from the penis and in vaginal fluid.”
What is super gonorrhoea?
In women, it can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, which could cause problems with fertility and future pregnancy.
It may also increase the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a medical emergency.
Gonorrhoea can also increase the risk of transmitting or acquiring HIV.
Other risks of super gonorrhoea
According to Dr Teodara Wi, World Health Organisation’s (WHO) medical officer specialising in STIs, other serious risks of super gonorrhoea include:
- A five-fold increase of HIV transmission
- Infertility, with its cultural and social implications
- Inflammation, leading to acute and chronic lower abdominal pain in women
- Ectopic pregnancy and maternal death
- First trimester miscarriage
- Severe neonatal eye infections that may lead to blindness.