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Gonorrhoea-related throat infections increase in Sydney

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SYDNEY, Australia: The assessment of thousands of patient records in New South Wales has found that throat infections due to gonorrhoea among men living in Sydney’s eastern and southern suburbs have increased fourfold in recent years. The researchers have speculated that the cases occurred mostly in gay patients practising unsafe oral intercourse.

As reported by the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday this week, researchers at the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District reviewed the New South Wales Ministry of Health’s database for notifiable diseases and found a total of 3,132 reported cases of gonorrhoea between January 2010 and December 2012. According to the newspaper, over 88 per cent of these patients were men. The study also established that throat infections had increased from 87 to 352 reported cases within the same period.

The researchers said that their findings indicate that doctors need to take oral swabs from patients who are suspected of having gonorrhoea, in addition to genital and anal swabs.

Moreover, the researchers found that over 11 per cent of the men had more than one episode of gonorrhoea infection in the three-year period covered by the study. Almost 35 per cent of the men had two or more episodes of a sexually transmitted infection during that time.

The study’s authors presumed that the reported cases are largely men who have sex with men. However, as the database only provided minimal background information about patients, this is highly speculative. In order to confirm this assumption, the researchers will approach regional doctors to request detailed information about patients’ sexual behaviour and preferences in the next stage of the study.

The study, titled “Gonorrhoea infection, reinfection and co-infection in men in inner Sydney: A population-based analysis”, was published in the Medical Journal of Australia.

January 27, 2014

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