'Untreatable' gonorrhoea, the flu jab causing narcolepsy and are you lying about your drinking habits?
A round-up of the morning’s health news headlines on Wednesday 27 February
‘Lock up your daughters! This morning the BBC brings us news of an ‘untreatable’ gonorrhoea that has developed resistance to antibiotics.
The Health Protection Agency (HPA) is launching an action plan to reduce transmission, monitor for and rapidly detect drug resistance against England’s second most common bacterial sexually transmitted infection (STI).
In 2011, there was a 25% increase, with 21,000 newly diagnosed cases. At the same time, the risk of gonorrhoea developing resistance to antibiotics ceftriaxone and azithromycin fell slightly for the first time in five years.
However, globally cases of treatment failure have been reported with no new drugs in the pipeline. England’s chief medical officer has advised the government to add the threat of the infection’s resistance to antibiotics to the civil emergencies risk register.
Dr Gwenda Hughes, head of STI surveillance at the HPA, said: ‘We are seriously concerned about continuing high levels of gonorrhoea transmission and repeat infection, suggesting we need to do more to reduce unsafe sexual behaviour.’
Meanwhile, the Telegraph reports that a swine flu jab given to hundreds of children increased the risk of developing narcolepsy.
Around one child developed the sleep condition for every 55,000 doses of Pandemrix delivered, health experts said, increasing the risk fourfold.
The vaccine was given to more than 850, 000 children in England aged six months to 16 years at the height of the flu pandemic, between October 2009 and March 2010. It was also given to 170,000 adults and children from October 2010 to February 2011 when supplies of the seasonal flu vaccine diminished.
Researchers from the HPA and Papworth and Addenbrokke’s hospitals in Cambridge examined 75 children diagnosed with narcolepsy from January 2008 in sleep centres across the country, and found that 11 of these had received the vaccine before their symptoms appeared.
Since 2011, restrictions have been put on the use of the vaccine in people aged under 20 across Europe following reports of increased cases of narcolepsy.
The agency’s finding are likely to help parents seek damages for claims the jab gave their children narcolepsy.
The Daily Mail asks us if we are in ‘drink denial’ as reports show that millions of adults drink too much alcohol yet barely a quarter admit to doing so.
Researchers at UCL found a huge mismatch between the amount of alcohol we say we are consuming and what is actually being bought. 40% of sales are unaccounted for when the two figures are compared.
The study suggests that around half the adult population are binge drinkers, drinking more than six units once a week for women and eight units for men.
However, only 13% of women and 22% of men admit to being in this category.
Researchers used a computer model to estimate the true amount being drunk - basing it on the Health Survey for England and the General Lifestyle Survey.
They found that 43% of women and 51% of men were binge drinkers, though the latest figures from the Government found only 13% of women and 22% of men drank more than the recommended amounts.
The researchers concluded that many people completing the official surveys underestimate, forget or even lie about the amount they drink, and drastically underestimate their intake as a result.
Sadie Boniface, lead author of the study and based at the department of epidemiology and public health at UCL, said: ‘This study was conducted to show what alcohol consumption would look like when all of what is sold is accounted for, if everyone under-reported equally.
‘What is seen in the surveys and sales potentially has enormous implications for public health.’