The United Kingdom's top doctor has written a letter addressed to the country's doctors and pharmacies warning of the rise of "super-gonorrhea," pleading with them to prescribe the correct drugs to treat the disease.
Super-gonorrhea can occur when gonorrhea isn't treated with the proper combination of two antibiotic medications, azithromycin and ceftriaxone. Giving a patient only one of the drugs can cause the disease to become drug-resistant, making it "super." At least 16 cases of super-gonorrhea have broken out in the U.K. this year.
In the letter, Dame Sally Davies, the country's chief medical officer said, "Gonorrhoea is at risk of becoming an untreatable disease due to the continuing emergence of antimicrobial resistance."
She and chief pharmaceutical officer Dr. Keith Ridge blame the rise in resistance on "suboptimal treatment." Earlier this year, the British Association for Sexual Health and HIV warned that some online pharmacies were offering only oral medication, the BBC said, instead of using it in combination with a drug injection treatment, which fuels resistance.
The BBC says the number of regular gonorrhea infections increased by 19% to almost 35,000 in 2014.
The U.K.'s Sun newspaper reported that individuals aged under-25 were being hit hardest and quoted one expert as blaming dating apps like Tinder for spreading the disease.
“You’re able to turn over partners more quickly with a dating app and the quicker you change, the more likely you are to get infections,” Dr. Peter Greenhouse, a sexual health consultant with the National Health Institute, was quoted as saying.
Tinder’s Rosette Pambakian told the Sun there was “no real data” to support that.
Meanwhile, Davies has urged medical centers to prescribe the proper treatment, with both drugs, lest this super-gonorrhea spread wider.
Rob covers business, economics and the environment for Fusion. He previously worked at Business Insider. He grew up in Chicago.