Two cases of multi-drug-resistant “super gonorrhoea” have been detected in Australia for the first time – one in Queensland and another in Western Australia.
A Queensland Health spokesperson confirmed two cases of gonorrhoea resistant to multiple antibiotics had been detected in the past month. Evidence suggests that one of the Australians acquired their infection in south-east Asia, authorities said.
Gonorrhoea is caused by a bacteria and is spread through vaginal, oral and anal sex, and symptoms include a coloured discharge from the genitalia, pain or a burning sensation when urinating and inflammation.
Australian Government Chief Medical Officer Professor Brendan Murphy said drug-resistant gonorrhoea had previously been found in many countries, including Australia.
“However, these latest cases and a recent one in the UK appear to be the first reported that are resistant to all of the antibiotics that have been in routine use against gonorrhoea,” he said.
Professor Murphy said the best way to prevent gonorrhoea is to practise safe sex.
“It is important when travelling, and at home, to use appropriate precautions, such as barrier protection like condoms and dams, when engaging in all types of sexual activity,” he said.
“People who have had new sexual partners are advised to get tested regularly.
“Untreated gonorrhoea can have serious complications, including pelvic inflammatory disease and infertility in women.”
Brisbane LGBTIQ health specialist and QNews Magazine contributor Dr Fiona Bisshop said one of the problems with gonorrhoea is that those infected don’t always know they have it.
“It can lurk in your throat or bum without many obvious symptoms, and can be passed on by oral sex as well as by rimming and condom-less anal sex,” she said.
“For this reason we recommend three-monthly screening – or more often if you feel the need – and it’s always a good idea to use condoms if you’re having sex with someone for the first time, or if they don’t get regular tests.”
The two Australian diagnoses come just weeks after a British man contracted what was dubbed the “world’s worst case of gonorrhoea”, following a sexual encounter with a woman in south-east Asia.
British health agency Public Health England said the case was the first time that routine antibiotics were unable to cure the STI because it had such a high level of resistance.