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Swedish researchers have discovered a new, more resistant strain of gonorrhoea. The first case was identified in Japan and, although there is currently no way of knowing how widespread this strain of the virus is, scientists warn that there is the potential for it to turn into a global public health issue.
The new strain of gonorrhoea bacteria, called H041, is able to mutate, which is why it's able to resist antibiotics that can effectively treat and kill other strains of the virus. Normally, cephalosporin antibiotics which are similar to penicillin are used to treat gonorrhoea. However, even when these medications are used, the bacteria has been shown to be resistant to treatment.
Researchers are currently working on finding a medication to delay the spread of the bacteria, but Dr David Livermore director of the antibiotic resistance monitoring laboratory from the Health Protection Agency warns that prevention is the only option until they've found a way to control the bacteria. "Prevention is better than cure, especially as a cure becomes harder to achieve, and the most reliable way to protect against STIs - including resistant gonorrhoea - is to use a condom with both new and casual partners."
He also said that antibiotics currently used to treat other strains are still effective, however their research showed that other strains of the bacteria are also becoming more resistant. This means that in some cases, antibiotics need to be alternated or the doses need to be increased. This why LabsDirect encourages all our patients to wait two weeks after completing a course of antibiotics to check that it has been effective.
Just like with most other types of bacterial STIs, gonorrhoea doesn't cause people to display symptoms straight away, with around 50% of men and women displaying no symptoms at all. This is why it's important to ensure that you go for regular tests if you are sexually active and get the right treatment if it's possible.