Sally Davies, England’s chief medical officer, warned that gonorrhoea could become an untreatable disease. Davies wrote to all general practitioners (GPs) and pharmacies to ensure they are prescribing the right medicines after issues surfaced that some patients were not getting antibiotics for their infection.

A highly drug-resistant gonorrhoea spread in north of England with an outbreak that affected more than 10 people in Leeds, BBC News reports. The antibiotic azithromycin, which is usually used together with ceftriaxone, has not been effective on the strain. Hence, Davies claimed that the continuing emergence of antimicrobial resistance may cause gonorrhoea to be untreatable.

Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted disease caused by the bacterium Neisseria gonorrhoeae. The disease can be spread through vaginal, oral or anal sex. A person infected does not usually exhibit symptoms that can include a thick green or yellow discharge, pain during urination and bleeding between periods. If left untreated, this can lead to infertility and pelvic inflammatory disease, which can be passed to a child.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Keith Ridge added that the disease’s rapidly acquired resistance to antibiotics leaves few options for medical professionals when it comes to current treatments. Hence, it is extremely important that substandard treatments or therapies do not occur.

Gonorrhoea is the second most common sexually transmitted infection in England. However, cases have been rising, from 29,419 in 2013 to 34,958 in 2014, a 19 percent increase.

"We're really pleased that the chief medical officer has stressed that gonorrhoea needs this approach to treatment due to the rapid development of resistance,” Jan Clarke, president of the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV (BASHH), told BBC News. "We need to protect what we've got and we need to encourage pharmacists and general practitioners to follow first-line treatment."

"Investigations are ongoing into a number of cases of anti-microbial resistant gonorrhoea,” Andrew Lee, physician from Public Health England, noted. "Public Health England will continue to monitor, and act on, the spread of antimicrobial resistance and potential gonorrhoea treatment failures, to make sure they are identified and managed promptly."

Contact the writer at or tell us what you think below.