HEALTH experts are concerned about an alarming increase of gonorrhoea and two cases of extensively drug-resistant gonorrhoea
The number of gonorrhoea cases in Queensland is already 20 per cent higher compared to the same period last year and almost double the annual total from 2014.
The Metro South region which encompasses Beaudesert, Logan and the Redlands, saw 1100 cases of gonorrhoea between January 1 and November 10 this year.
There were only 441 cases reported in 2014.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect the reproductive passages in men and women, the anus and rectum, the mouth and throat, and the eyes.
Dr Amy Jennison, acting chief scientist of Public Health Microbiology, Forensic and Scientific Services at Queensland Health, said two cases in Australia had been labelled extensively drug resistant gonorrhoea, also known as XDR.
"We performed whole genome sequencing on these bacteria to figure out exactly how they became resistant, and we shared that information internationally and found the same strain in a UK patient," Dr Jennison said.
"These XDR gonorrhoea cases will not respond to the current Australian recommended treatment.
"So, these patients have to be given specialised antibiotics that require hospitalisation and IV."
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Dr Jennison said the number of gonorrhoea cases was continuing to increase in Queensland.
"These XDR cases are alarming but so far sporadic, however, what concerns us most is that we continuing to see an increase in the total number of cases here in Queensland each year," she said.
Dr Jennison said the epidemiology of gonorrhoea seen in Queensland was also changing.
"FSS has been monitoring gonorrhoea cases in Queensland for more than 35 years through the lab's involvement in the Australian Gonococcal Surveillance Program," she said.
"Gonorrhoea used to be only generally associated with groups practicing high-risk unprotected sexual practices, but now we see it expanding into the rest of the population.
"Ages are increasing and we're seeing it in our heterosexual population including older women.
"Previously we rarely saw cases in older women, but we are now seeing older Queenslanders presenting with gonorrhoea.
"While gonorrhoea can lead to fertility issues in both men and women if untreated, it can also cause septic arthritis and increase the risk of HIV transmission.
"It is important that all sexually active people are aware of safe sexual practices," Dr Jennison said.
"To prevent getting or spreading any STI, use a condom every time you have sex. This includes vaginal, anal and oral sex.Sexually active people should also be regularly tested for STIs.
"This can be done at your GP, a STI-specialist confidential appointment at a sexual health clinic, or through services like True Relationships & Reproductive Health (formerly Family Planning Queensland)."
Queensland residents who are older than 16 can order a free chlamydia and gonorrhoea urine test online, through the 13 HEALTH webtest program at qld.gov.au/health.