The Ministry of Health has warned the public about sexually transmitted infections after a “notable increase” of gonorrhoea.
It said gonorrhoea rates had tripled compared with previous years and there have also been increases of chlamydia, herpes and syphilis.
A spokesman said: “The increase in reported gonorrhoea cases began in April, with more cases being reported weekly.
“As of June 9, there have been 37 cases reported. In the last five years, an average of 11 cases were reported in the same time period.”
About 65 per cent of the new cases are reported in female patients, while the average age of those infected is 30.
The spokesman also warned: “There is evidence that a strain of gonorrhoea seen locally may be resistant to treatment by one of the most common antibiotics.
“If your symptoms continue for more than a few days after receiving treatment, you should return to a healthcare provider to be checked again.”
The spokesman said the Communicable Disease Control Clinic put in place new guidelines last November requiring routine screening of females under 25-years-old attending the clinic using more advanced and sensitive testing requirements.
Gonorrhoea is a sexually transmitted infection that can infect both men and women.
It can cause infections in the genitals, the anus and the throat, and it can be spread by having sexual contact with someone carrying the infection.
Pregnant women with gonorrhoea can give the infection to their baby during childbirth, and untreated gonorrhoea can cause serious and permanent health problems.
Patients can suffer a range of symptoms, including painful urination and discharge from the genitals.
However, some patients with the infection show no symptoms at all.
The spokesman said: “Gonorrhoea can be cured with the right treatment. If diagnosed with an STI, you must return to your doctor for treatment and notify your sexual partners so that they can be diagnosed and treated as well.
“It is vitally important that you take all of the medication your doctor prescribes to cure your infection. It is becoming harder to treat some gonorrhoea, as drug-resistant strains of gonorrhoea are increasing.
“If you have been diagnosed and treated for gonorrhoea, to avoid getting reinfected or spreading gonorrhoea to your partner(s), you and your sex partner(s) should avoid having sex until you have each completed treatment. Reinfection is possible.”•
•For more information, contact your doctor or the Communicable Disease Control Clinic at 67 Victoria Street, Hamilton, or visit the Ministry’s website.