Untreatable gonorrhoea 'superbug' spreading around world

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Untreatable strains of gonorrhoea are spreading around the world, with three cases identified, the World Health Organisation has warned.

Experts said highly drug-resistant forms of the sexually transmitted disease have made it much harder to treat, adding the situation is “very serious”.

They said on Friday it was “only a matter of time” before last-resort gonorrhoea antibiotics would be of no use.

Dr Teodora Wi, from the WHO, said there had even been three cases – in Japan, France and Spain – where the infection was completely untreatable.

She said: “Gonorrhoea is a very smart bug, every time you introduce a new class of antibiotics to treat gonorrhoea, the bug becomes resistant.

“Worryingly, the vast majority of gonorrhoea infections are in poor countries where resistance is harder to detect.

“These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg.”

The WHO estimates 78 million people pick up gonorrhoea, which can infect genitals, rectum and throat.

The infection, which in many cases has no symptoms on its own, can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, ectopic pregnancy and infertility, as well as increasing the risk of getting HIV.

Wi added: “These cases may just be the tip of the iceberg, since systems to diagnose and report untreatable infections are lacking in lower-income countries where gonorrhoea is actually more common.” 


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