A "sex superbug" has put health experts in Australia and New Zealand on high alert amid mounting evidence that antibiotics used to treat the infection are no longer effective.
The most highly resistant strain of gonorrhoea ever discovered in Australia was recently found in a tourist from central Europe who contracted the sexually transmitted infection (SIT) in Sydney. According to the Australian Health Department, a new multidrug resistant type of gonococcal bacteria, dubbed A8806, was identified with similarities to an untreatable strain of gonorrhoea known as H041.
The department has urged GPs to refer all cases of gonorrhoea, known as "the clap", for culture testing and New Zealand health clinics are on a high state of alert.
The officials with the New Zealand Sexual Health Society said, the capacity of the gonorrhoea bacterium to develop antibiotic resistance is well known and many of the antibiotics used in the past 70 years no longer provide effective treatment.
"Gonorrhoea infection can result in severe complications, this is a major public health concern" said Dr Edward Coughlan, president of the society.
Gonorrhea, colloquially known as the clap, is caused by Neisseria gonorrhea, a bacterium that can grow and multiply in the warm, moist areas of the reproductive tract, including the cervix, uterus and fallopian tubes in women and in the urethra in women and men. Symptoms are often silent but the long-term effects can be devastating, causing painful pelvic disease in women and infertility in both sexes.