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A common sexually transmitted infection (STI) is at risk of becoming "untreatable," public health officials warned this week.
England's chief medical officer is cautioning doctors and pharmacists to double-check their prescriptions, after an antibiotic-resistant strain of "super gonorrhea" broke out this year in the north part of the country, international news source The Guardian reports.
The super strain of the disease, which is resistant to the first-line antibiotic azithromycin, emerged in March and has since spread to at least 16 people, according to The Guardian.
Despite gonorrhea's known drug-resistant properties, some physicians continue to prescribe an outdated drug, ciprofloxacin, raising the chances that drug-resistant forms will spread, according to a study from earlier this year cited by The Guardian.
Though some gonorrhea carriers do not display symptoms, the illness can cause serious long-term problems in some patients, such as infertility and potentially a life-threatening pelvic inflammatory disease in women, the report said. Gonorrhea can also blind babies born to infected women.
Antibiotic-resistant bacteria have long proved a powerful and deadly challenge for health-care providers and their patients, beyond the U.K., especially as cases of STIs are on the rise.
In the U.S., President Barack Obama last year issued an executive order on combating antibiotic-resistant bacteria. Indeed, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its STD treatment guidelines in response to the "urgent public health threat" of the gonorrhea super strain.