If new methods of treating gonorrhoea are not found quickly there is a danger the sexually transmitted infection could become antibiotic-resistant according to experts.
Commonly a single antibiotic dose of either cefixime or ceftriaxone is used to ward off the condition, but there are signs of resistance to the drugs - especially to cefixime - so alternatives need to be discovered.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) is to discuss the common sexually transmitted disease that can lead to pelvic inflammatory disease, infertility and ectopic pregnancy if left untreated, at a meeting in the Philippines. It will focus specifically on efforts to stop the infection resisting drugs.
Catherine Ison, from the Health Protection Agency said gonorrhoea “is a very clever bacteria” that can develop resistance. She added: “If this problem isn’t addressed, there is a real possibility that gonorrhoea will become a very difficult infection to treat.”
There are at least 340 million new cases of curable sexually transmitted infections every year among 15 to 49-year-olds, including gonorrhoea, chlamydia, syphilis and trichomoniasis.
According to Ms Ison, a specialist on gonorrhoea, the worst areas for the infection globally are south and south-east Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.