Concerns have been raised over a sexual infection epidemic potentially spreading worldwide following the identification of a new gonorrhoea strain.
No type of antibiotic currently used to treat the strain, known as H041, has been successful at treating the infection, which has been branded a 'super STI'. Experts fear that unless a drug to treat the strain effectively is developed, it could turn into a global threat to public health.
Gonorrhoea is one of the most common sexually transmitted infections in the world, with around 700,000 new cases every year, but previous strains have been easy to treat and control.
Dr Magnus Unemo, from Orebro University Hospital in Sweden, whose team made the find, said: "While it is still too early to assess if this new strain has become widespread, the history of newly emergent resistance in the bacterium suggests that it may spread rapidly unless new drugs and effective treatment programmes are developed."
The research was presented at the annual meeting of the International Society for Sexually Transmitted Disease Research in Quebec City, Canada.