‘Super gonorrhoea’ outbreak could ruin Freshers’ Weeks across the UK

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A highly drug-resistant strain of “super gonorrhoea” is spreading like wildfire in Leeds with the potential to ruin Freshers’ Weeks everywhere. 

15 cases of the bacterial infection have been confirmed so far by Public Health England, with a further four in nearby areas in the North.

The strain is resistant to Azithromycin, one of the drugs most commonly used to treat gonorrhoea.

Be safe kids

Although the numbers of patients currently is low, there are fears there are a lot more undiagnosed cases, and could quickly spread and become the predominant strain.

All cases so far have been reported in heterosexuals and some have been recorded as having sexual partners from across England.

The disease has already spread to Oldham and Macclesfield, with the potential to blight Freshers’ Weeks over the country, casting an STI-ridden cloud over the week ahead.

Of course, students were quick to jump on the story.



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Sue Burchill, Head of Nursing at sexual health charity Brook, said: “Over half of new cases of gonorrhoea are diagnosed among under 25s. It’s pretty easily passed on through sex – vaginal, oral, and/or anal.

“About one in ten men and half of women who have gonorrhoea don’t have any symptoms, while the symptoms themselves – a green or yellow discharge, a burning sensation when weeing, and pains in the stomach – can take two weeks or even longer to develop.

“Gonorrhoea is bacterial, so is treated with antibiotics. Unfortunately, strains of gonorrhoea which are resistant to antibiotics are on the rise, as we’ve seen in Leeds.

“If these strains become more common, it definitely spells bad news for sexual health in general, and especially among young people.”

On how to avoid the not-so-super STI, Burchill advises wrapping up.

She said: “Luckily, it’s pretty simple to avoid gonorrhoea, drug-resistant or not, and STIs of all kinds – make sure you use a condom and/or a dental dam every time you have sex. Get yourself checked out – it’s free, quick, and painless.

“Left untreated, gonorrhoea can lead to a whole host of unpleasant consequences, such as infertility, so it’s definitely better to be safe than sorry.

“Freshers’ Week can be a brilliant time to meet new people, and to go out and have fun. If you do end up getting intimate with someone after a night on the tiles, don’t forget to use a condom or a dam – prevention is much better than cure!”

Free STI advice and contraceptives are available from the Leeds Student Medical Practice and the sexual health clinic at the LGI.