A second woman has also caught the “super gonorrhoea” – an STI resistant to conventional antibiotic treatment methods – sparking fears of a widespread outbreak. The second woman was found to have caught the sexually transmitted disease after coming from a “party destination” in Europe.
Both women were treated for the disease, but health officials are trying to follow up their sexual encounters to minimise the risk of the STI spreading. Last year, a British man became the first to become infected with super gonorrhoea – but caught the strain while on holiday in Asia.
Dr Nick Phin, from Public Health England, said: “We tried to follow up contacts as much as possible, but it can be difficult – particularly if people don’t have details you can contact them with.
“It is possible there may be other cases, these are definitely the first two we have picked up and at the moment there are two.”
A European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control report published last year saying: “The control of gonorrhoea depends on primary prevention, including promoting safer sex practices (in particular the use of condoms), regular testing of individuals at risk as well as treatment with effective antibiotics to reduce the chance of further transmission.
“Even a small change in drug resistance may have a broader impact as those infected can continue to transmit the infection without knowing.
“Spread of extensively drug-resistant strains like the ones identified in the UK and Australia can have an even more serious impact on the control of gonorrhoea.”
In 2015, there were 12 reported cases of “super gonorrhoea” in Leeds, with a further four reported Macclesfield, Oldham and Scunthorpe.
The STI strain is unable to shrug off the antibiotic azithromycin, which is normally used alongside another drug called ceftriaxone.
About 78 million people are infected with gonorrhoea each year, according to WHO, making it the second most common STI in England.