New statistics published by the European Centre for Disease Control (ECDC) last week shows that the sexually transmitted infection (STI), gonorrhea, has increased in rate of cases per 100,000 population by 79% since 2008.

Gonorrhea image/CDC
Gonorrhea image/CDC

The bacterial infection caused by the organism, Neisseria gonorrhoeae, has been reported in men three times as often as in females and 43 percent of all cases in 2013 in the EU were in men who have sex with men (MSM).

The United Kingdom was especially hard hit by gonorrhea in 2013 accounting for 61 percent of total cases in Europe, or roughly 32,000 cases.

The UK saw 51 cases per 100,000 population followed by Ireland and Latvia with 28 and 27 per 100,000, respectively.

European health officials say the increasing cases of gonorrhea in several countries across the continent indicate ongoing unsafe sexual behavior, which carries the risk of transmission of other STI, including HIV.

In addition, the increased number of cases is worrying because of the possibility of antimicrobial-resistant N. gonorrhoeae strains. The latest resistance data from the European Gonococcal Antimicrobial Surveillance Programme suggest stable levels of resistance to cefixime and no significant increase in resistance to ceftriaxone. Despite these data, the development of resistance to existing treatments is feared to be only a matter of time.