Background Increases in gonorrhoea infection in young heterosexuals have been reported in two distinct areas of the North East of England over the past 6 months. Multi-agency working between GUM, public health, health protection and communication teams has attempted to increase awareness and reduce transmission. From initial case and partner notification information, there appeared to be misunderstandings about the routes and risks of transmission, along with a perception that a negative chlamydia test could be regarded as an STI “all clear”.
Methods Following the report of increase in area 1 in September 2011, a number of interventions were put in place, including enhanced surveillance, network mapping of contacts and cases, raising awareness among healthcare professionals, other organisations working with young people and with young people themselves. An increase in cases in area 2 was reported in November 2011. Similar interventions are being introduced and ongoing work to explore any links between the clusters.
Results 65 cases of gonorrhoea have been reported in area 1 since May 2011 (compared to a usual annual number of 15); in area 2 clustering of cases has occurred at higher rates than previously seen, although overall number of cases has not increased. Partner notification and network mapping has shown multiple casual partners although no large extended sexual networks. Dual-testing of chlamydia screening samples is now being considered to further outbreak control. We report the lessons learnt from managing these two clusters and how they can be applied to future STI clusters.