Gonorrhoea cases surge in Dublin region
A seven-fold increase in gonorrhoea cases in the greater Dublin area over the past decade is causing serious concern among health professionals.
The incidence of the sexually transmitted infection in the capital is now at record levels, according to the HSE’s Health Protection Surveillance Centre.
Concern is focused particularly on the incidence of the disease among men, who accounted for over 80 per cent of cases in counties Dublin, Wicklow and Kildare last year.
Half of the cases involved patients who had attended the Gay Men’s Health Service.
The centre says gonorrhoea has become a major public health challenge.
Gonorrhoea has become increasingly difficult to treat. Drug resistance is increasing and the World Health Organisation has warned that the disease may become untreatable.
The number of cases in the HSE East region has jumped from fewer than 100 a decade ago to more than 800 last year. The current rate of 49.2 cases per 100,000 is the highest recorded, and is three times the national average of 18 per 100,000. It is also well above the European average.
The worst affected age group was 20-24-year-olds, followed by 25-29-year-olds, and almost 100 cases were recorded among teenagers.
The centre says people at increased risk, , such as men who have sex with men, sex workers and youths, need to be made more aware of the risks of any form of unprotected sex, including oral sex.
Gonorrhoea is highly infectious and is transmitted through sexual contact. Infection is passed on through the membranes of various organs, depending on the type of sexual contact involved, but doctors in HSE-East have recently noticed a rise in the number of pharyngeal (throat) gonorrhoea cases.
Symptoms include burning on urination among men and pelvic pain among women, but more serious cases can result in sterility, infertility and joint inflammation.