Sexual health clinics in Australia are on the alert after finding a patient with the highest level of drug resistance.
It is believed that the patient who is a tourist from central Europe contracted the ‘sex superbug’ whilst in Sydney, but received treatment in Cairns.
The discovery of this case has also prompted New Zealand to issue health warnings due to fears that the new strain could spread. The president of the NZ Sexual Health Society, Edward Coughlan, warned that the patient, who has since left the country, had the highest level of drug resistance to gonorrhoea ever reported within Australia.
The fears come after concern during recent years about a strain known as H041, which is untreatable, when it was first seen in 2009 after a sex worker in Japan became a victim of the superbug.
During May 2011, there were reports of a strain that is resilient to medication in Hawaii, Norway and California.
Coughlan issued a warning that most of the antibiotics which have been developed over the past seven decades proved useless in treating the infections and there no new treatment options on the horizon. He said that this is a major health concern for the public.
Gonorrhoea, also referred to as the clap, is caused when a bacterium, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, grows and multiplies in warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the fallopian tubes, uterus and cervix in females and the urethra in both sexes.
The symptoms are often not noticeable, but the long-term effects of the infection can be serious. It could cause painful pelvic disease in females and infertility in both males and females.
Federal health authorities and the government have been asked for their comment.
Image Credit: Richard Taylor