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New Strain Of Gonorrhea May Become Untreatable, U.K. Officials Say

12/30/2015 01:20 EST | Updated 12/30/2015 01:59 EST

A new strain of gonorrhea, that is able to shrug off antibiotics, has put Britain on high alert.

Britain's chief medical officer, Sally Davies, recently wrote a message warning of the new strain and urging doctors and pharmacists to be more vigilant about the treatments they prescribe.

This comes after an outbreak of "super-gonorrhea"in Leeds, a city in northern England, was announced in September.

The recommended first-line treatment for gonorrhea in Ontario, and across the U.S. and the U.K. has been a combination of an injection (ceftriaxone and an oral pill (azithromycin). This particular strain in the U.K. has become resistant to azithromycin.

gonorrhea

According to Newsy, the problem is that many patients still don't receive or just don't take both antibiotics, and because of that not all of the bacteria is killed. Instead, the bacteria that remains has already been exposed to the treatment that was used, so it becomes familiar with and develops a resistance.

In her letter, Davies stressed that doctors and pharmacists should ensure they are prescribing the correct drugs.

The Guardian also mentioned there have been cases where some patients were still being prescribed treatment that had not been recommended since 2005, a drug called ciprofloxacin.

In Canada, rates of gonorrhea cases have gone up more than 53 per cent in the last ten years

Treatment resistant gonorrhea has raised concerns in parts of Canada in recent years as well. A 2013 Toronto study found that standard treatment failed in 7 per cent of cases, a number they called high, and showed that a resistance was building.

So far there isn't an alert similar to the U.K., but gonorrhea is spreading faster in Canada than it used to. According to the Government of Canada, the rates of gonorrhea cases have gone up more than 53 per cent in the last decade. And earlier this month, infection rates spiked in the Yukon, doubling from last year and nine times the number of cases than the year before, according to the CBC.

In the U.K., for now, Public Health England is reminding everyone to reduce their risks of getting STIs by using condoms and getting tested regularly. They will continue to track this new super-strain.

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