Three new cases of antibiotic-resistant gonorrhoea have been reported by the UK Health Security Agency. 

The first case of the sexually transmitted infection – otherwise known as super-gonorrhoea – was reported in the UK in 2016. Since then, several cases of the STI have been detected in the UK, including at least three cases3 in 2022. 

According to the UKHSA, a woman in her 20s from London and a heterosexual couple in their 20s from the Midlands have recently been diagnosed with a strain of the STI that could not be treated with the first-line antibiotic ceftriaxone. 

The recent cases have sparked ‘further public health investigations,’ the UKHSA said yesterday.  

Dr Katy Sinka, STI section head at the UKHSA, said it was ‘too soon to say’ whether gonorrhoea resistant to this ceftriaxone was spreading in the country. 

However, she said that STIs are on the rise ‘in general’. 

‘After a couple of years without any cases of this hard-to-treat form of gonorrhoea, we have now seen 4 cases in the last 2 months,’ she added.  

According to WHO, 82 million new cases of gonorrhoea occurred in 2020. 

Although the infection is not life-threatening, it can lead to infertility in both men and women and other complications including pelvic inflammatory disease.  

The financial costs of complications that arise from the infection are ‘very high’ for both individuals and health care systems, WHO explained.  

Last month, health officials warned of the rise of another ‘extremely antibiotic-resistant’ STI, shigella, in the UK, which if left untreated can be life-threatening. 

The UKHSA said 47 cases of shigella had been reported in the four-month period between September 2021 and January 2022, compared with 16 cases in the previous 17 months (April 2020 to August 2021). 

UKHSA has been following the strain since 2018, but recent cases showed that resistance is increasing. 

This comes as antimicrobial resistance is reportedly the leading cause of death worldwide. A study in The Lancet, published last week, found that antimicrobial resistance kills about 3,500 people every day worldwide. 

In September, The Pharmacist reported the number of sexually-transmitted infections (STIs) diagnosed across England was down by almost a third in 2020, compared to the previous year. 

UKSHA attributed the fall in diagnoses to disruption to sexual health testing services.