A man had super news for his regular partner in the United Kingdom. Not good news, but super news.
Imagine the conversation after the man told his female partner in England that he had had sexual contact with another woman while traveling abroad. Then picture the dialogue after he revealed that he had caught not only gonorrhea but super gonorrhea. So much for bringing back souvenirs.
A report entitled “UK case of Neisseria gonorrhoeae with high-level resistance to azithromycin and resistance to ceftriaxone acquired abroad” from Public Health England described some of the details about this super gonorrhea, which was first detected when the man visited a sexual health services clinic in early 2018. The man had developed symptoms a month after having sexual contact with a woman in Southeast Asia. While his urine tested negative, a swab of his throat turned up the bacteria, which suggests that oral sex may have been the route of transmission. The bacteria turned out to be resistant to the standard antibiotics for gonorrhea, azithromycin and ceftriaxone, and was susceptible only to spectinomycin.
As the report indicated, this is the first reported case in the world of N. gonorrhea which has both high-level resistance to azithromycin and resistance to ceftriaxone. So, in a way, you can say that this man has the world’s worst case of gonorrhea, which is a term used by James Gallagher for the BBC News. There’s no indication of how his female partner took the news (aside from her testing negative for gonorrhea) and whether he remains partnered with her. But the “world’s worst case of gonorrhea” is not exactly the kind of thing that would look good on a dating profile.
It was only a matter of time before such a resistant strain of gonorrhea appeared. As I’ve described previously for Forbes, super gonorrhea has been spreading and will continue to spread unless something changes. This is certainly not a slow clap. Inappropriate antibiotic use and unprotected sex (including unprotected oral sex) are likely contributing to the rapid spread of this bacteria otherwise known as the clap. And here’s another thing that doesn’t deserve a slow clap. Without enough new antibiotics being developed, we may run out of weapons against this superbug in the not too distant future.
This reported case of super gonorrhea probably means that there are many other people who are infected with this strain of bacteria but have not yet been diagnosed and continue to spread the super clap to others. The trouble is many men and most women don’t even have symptoms when they are infected with gonorrhea. As the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) described, even when a woman has symptoms such as pain on urination, increased vaginal discharge, or vaginal bleeding between periods, she may mistake these symptoms for a “simple” bladder or vaginal infection. The only way to know for sure if you have gonorrhea is to get tested via a urine test or a swab of the rectum or throat if those are areas of concern. Therefore, quite a few men and women may be spreading gonorrhea without even knowing it. In other words, regularly asking your dates,”do you have gonorrhea,” is not a good screening method for gonorrhea, although it could impact the probability of a second date.